Ellsbury, Hermida progressing

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- On a night Terry Francona unveiled yet another outfield combination -- Eric Patterson is making his first start in center -- there were encouraging signs that help is on the way for the Red Sox.

Francona said that outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who has played just nine games this season and not at all since May 27, has begun throwing and could rejoin the club this weekend in Toronto to continue his rehab, assuming he is ready to resume baseball activities. A decision was expected later Tuesday.

Ellsbury injured his ribs in a collision with third baseman Adrian Beltre on April 11. He is currently rehabbing the injury at Athletes' Performance in Arizona.

Meanwhile, outfielder Jeremy Hermida, who like Ellsbury went on the DL with fractured ribs after a collision with third baseman Adrian Beltre, took his first live batting practice before regular BP Tuesday and assuming he responds well, will take a regular session of BP on Wednesday.

"He felt good," Francona said. "No restrictions. He felt pretty fluid, which is a pretty good sign."

The next step for Hermida, who has been out since June 10, would be a rehab assignment.

"He's not ready to go out yet," Francona said.

Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.