TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury is expected to start the regular season on the disabled list because of an oblique injury that has kept him out of exhibition games since March 1.
Ellsbury was scheduled to play Tuesday against Detroit, but his return was pushed back because he has flu-like symptoms. Ellsbury is projected as a backup outfielder after he lost the starting center-field job to Aaron Hicks last season.
"Just a bummer," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Monday, calling the DL stint "very likely."
"Just too hard to get him into enough games," Boone said. "The good thing, at least, we feel like he's totally healed up from his injury."
The 34-year-old Ellsbury is guaranteed $21,142,857 in each of the next three seasons as part of a $153 million, seven-year contract that includes a $21 million team option for 2021 with a $5 million buyout.
Brett Gardner is the starting left fielder, and Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge will rotate between right field and designated hitter. Stanton also could get time in left when Gardner is rested, especially against left-handed pitchers.
Ellsbury hit .264 with seven homers and 39 RBIs in 112 games last season. He was sidelined from May 24 until June 26 after he sustained a concussion against the center-field fence while making a spectacular catch to rob Kansas City's Alcides Escobar.