BOSTON -- If past practice is a barometer, Jacoby Ellsbury is within a day of returning to the Red Sox.
When Jeremy Hermida was on the disabled list with fractured ribs, he played five games on his rehab assignment -- two with Double-A Portland, three with Triple-A Pawtucket. Catcher Victor Martinez missed nearly a full month after fracturing his left thumb, and came off the DL without a rehab assignment. When catcher Jason Varitek had knee surgery in 2006 and missed a month, he returned after two games in the minors. When Nomar Garciaparra missed almost four months in 2001, he returned after a four-game rehab assignment.
Ellsbury, like Hermida, has played in five games. He played back-to-back games over the weekend in Pawtucket, and had two hits in each game. He played nine innings Sunday after playing six Saturday, in both games leading off and playing center field. Ellsbury last week played parts of three games in the Gulf Coast League, including nine innings Thursday.
GM Theo Epstein was in manager Terry Francona’s office after Sunday's game with members of the Sox medical team, Francona having said the club planned to re-evaluate after the weekend.
The most likely scenario? Give Ellsbury Monday off, make sure he’s OK and activate him Tuesday, in time for the second game of the Indians series. Regular center fielder Mike Cameron has not played since Friday because of soreness resulting from his abdominal tear, the condition that has plagued him all season.
The only reason to prolong Ellsbury’s rehab stay would be for him to work further on his timing at the plate, but he hit four balls hard Sunday. He has played in just nine games for the Sox all season, and his return obviously would be a welcome addition.