Farrell: Jacoby Ellsbury should return

NEW YORK -- Boston Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury has a compression fracture of the navicular bone in his right foot, but manager John Farrell insisted Sunday that the team's leadoff hitter likely will return before the end of the regular season.

According to a baseball source, the fracture is a tiny, hairline fracture at the top of Ellsbury's foot. The Red Sox are proceeding cautiously, but the source said that barring an unexpected setback, Ellsbury could be back within 10 days and probably no later than the final week of the season.

The fracture is non-displaced, Farrell said, and Ellsbury will be in a boot for a minimum of five days. Ellsbury was examined in Denver on Sunday by Dr. Tom Clanton of the Steadman Clinic, and will return to Boston.

"We feel like he'll return this year," Farrell said. "He's in a boot right now, and will be for the time being. We feel like he'll be back to us before this year is out. We're hopeful of the regular season."

Dustin Pedroia had a non-displaced fracture of the same bone in 2010, returned for just two games, and had offseason surgery, limiting him to 75 games that season. In 2012, Cody Ross fractured the same bone in his left foot and missed 27 games.

All three players -- Ellsbury, Pedroia, and Ross -- were injured the same way, by fouling a ball off their foot.

Ellsbury's injury initially occurred in the seventh inning of the Aug. 28 game against the Orioles, when Ellsbury fouled a pitch off the top of his right foot, just below the shin guard. He remained in the game, beat out an infield hit, stole second and came around to score the game-tying run on a base hit by Pedroia.

Ellsbury did not take the field the next inning, but played in the next five games before sitting out last Tuesday's game against the Tigers with a swollen left thumb. He then started the next two games before aggravating the foot injury Thursday night when he stole second base in the 10th inning of Boston's 9-8 win against the New York Yankees. He did not respond to treatment Friday, according to Farrell.

Ellsbury returned to Boston and underwent an MRI on Saturday morning before heading to Denver.

Ellsbury, who leads the majors with 52 stolen bases, is hitting .299 with a .355 on-base percentage. The speedster was batting .320 (24-for-75) in his last 17 games, with eight stolen bases in that span.