Red Sox OFs on comeback trail

BOSTON -- While the Boston Red Sox endured another shuffle to their constantly changing outfield Tuesday, two stars waiting in the wings took another positive step forward.

Jacoby Ellsbury took live batting practice and ran the bases at Fenway Park, while Carl Crawford threw from 90 feet. Both are getting to the point where the team can map out a timetable for their returns.

Manager Bobby Valentine said Ellsbury is "close to game activities," adding that everything in his rehab from a subluxation of his right shoulder has gone well to this point.

"I saw him yesterday; he hit real well," Valentine said. "He swung the bat about 20 times yesterday. He did both live work and tee work today, and he feels good. That's very encouraging. Close to game activities. I don't mean tomorrow, but he's close. He has made great, steady progress."

While Valentine did not give any further hints regarding Ellsbury's schedule, he did do so for Crawford.

"He's close," Valentine said of Crawford, who is recovering from a left elbow injury. "[He could be playing rehab games] by next week, if not sooner."

Crawford began the year on the DL after left wrist surgery. Ellsbury played seven games before suffering his injury in a slide at second base against Tampa Bay in the home opener.

Some outfield help is on the way as Cody Ross was activated from the disabled list prior to Tuesday's game against the Miami Marlins. He started in left field and batted seventh.

Meanwhile, fellow outfielder Scott Podsednik was placed on the DL with a left groin injury to make room on the roster.

Podsednik joins Ellsbury, Crawford and Ryan Sweeney on the list of disabled Red Sox outfielders. Daniel Nava hasn't been able to start a game since June 9 because of a sore left hand.

Ross, making his first appearance since May 18 at Philadelphia, when he fouled a ball off his left foot and was later diagnosed with a fractured navicular bone, went 1-for-3, hitting his ninth home run of the season in the fifth inning.

Ross says his foot feels "great," and he's ready to be back.

"I have felt great since about a week after I did it," he said. "I was progressing like we expected. I had no setbacks, which was huge, and I tested it out quite a bit. Everything you could possibly think of, I did. I even tried fouling the ball off different spots. Everything feels good.

"I'm really excited," he added. "It has been, I think, a month to the day. I'm looking forward to getting back out there and helping the guys win, and get back on track."

Ross acknowledged it's been a rough road so far for the Sox, but said he's optimistic the team will finally get on a more consistent and winning path.

"Sometimes it seems like we are playing really well, then we will hit a skip, and then we will start playing really well again," he said. "Maybe the consistency. Not putting together a big winning streak, like the Yankees have had. We haven't hit one of those yet, but we will. We're in an OK spot right now, nobody in here is panicking. We know how good we are and we believe in each other."

Podsednik's injury is one that likely will not need the full two weeks on the DL, but it would require more than a few days, according to Valentine.

"When it gets to that middle ground, it's really a difficult decision," Valentine said. "Play short for seven days. It's tough. Scott's not real happy about it. He thinks seven days will be fine and he's playing so fine. I want to have him in there, but I think this is the right thing to do."

Podsednik is batting .387 (24 for 62) with a home run and six steals in 19 games for Boston since being acquired in a trade with Philadelphia.

Tony Lee is a special contributor to ESPNBoston.com