No seat for Yankees CF Jacoby Ellsbury despite struggles

Jacoby Ellsbury is batting just .210 since his return on July 9th. AP/Kathy Willens

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Remember Jacoby Ellsbury?

It would be understandable if you did not. According to the Yankees press notes, Ellsbury returned to the club on July 9 after seven weeks on the disabled list with a knee injury, but in truth, that date was just a continuation of his disappearance.

Ellsbury was batting .324 when he injured himself on swing-and-miss on May 19; he is batting .254 now.

But that only tells part of the story. Since his return, Ellsbury has batted just .210. He has just three hits in the month of September. On the just-completed homsetand, Ellsbury was 5-for-40, including an 0-for-10 in Saturday's doubleheader. And he has begun this nine-game road trip in the same fashion, including grounding into a ninth-inning double play that nearly extinguished the Yankees game-winning rally.

Still, Joe Girardi said he has no plans to rest Ellsbury any day soon.

"Yeah, I mean you could think about that but he's a pretty hard guy to take out of your lineup," Girardi said. "Because hitting, it turns around pretty quickly. We have 19 games to go and he’s extremely important to our lineup. It’s hard to sit Ells."

Girardi loves the Ellsbury-Brett Gardner tandem at the top of his lineup, which earlier in the season provided plenty of RBI opportunities for Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira in the middle of the Yankees lineup. But Ellsbury, whose on-base percentage has plummeted nearly 100 points over the past two months, form a high of .410 on July 11 to where it is now, .315, has scored just three times all month and has just 57 runs scored on the season, behind Gardner (89), A-Rod (77), Chase Headley (72) and Brian McCann (62). Even Mark Teixeira, who has hardly played in the past month, has scored 57 runs.

Still, Girardi said he does not believe Ellsbury was still troubled by his knee injury, which was a sprain of the medial collateral ligament. "He feels pretty good, he’s been just a little bit off mechanically," Girardi said. "I liked what I saw better last night from him, just kinda where he was hitting the baseball, so I really believe he’s going to get going. He's doing everything he can to get back on track."

Ellsbury was unavailable for comment before Tuesday night's game; he was in the indoor batting cage before the game going through some drills with hitting coach Jeff Pentland.