TORONTO -- New York Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury is likely to miss a second game, and potentially more than that, with a left ankle that turned out to be more severely sprained than the team had hoped when he limped out of its clubhouse following a game Friday night.
"I'd be really shocked if he played [Sunday]," said manager Joe Girardi, who added that if Ellsbury's injury had occurred at another point in the season he likely would be headed for the disabled list.
"Hopefully the treatment today and a ton of treatment [Sunday] helps him,'' Girardi said.
When he left the ballpark on Friday, having been injured on a slide into home in the ninth inning of the Yankees' 6-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays, Ellsbury said he hoped to play on Saturday, although he was limping noticeably on a heavily wrapped and swollen ankle.
But he was not in the lineup, nor available to pinch-hit, as the Yankees were held to one hit by the Blue Jays' Drew Hutchison in a 2-0 loss on Saturday. Ellsbury spent the entire game in the trainer's room getting treatment.
"I think it was wishful thinking on his part and he was trying to gut it out, but there's no way he could have played today," Girardi said.
Ellsbury said after the game that he hoped to play in Sunday's series finale, but when told of Girardi's assessment of his chances, he did not disagree.
"Even if I do play tomorrow, it's not going to be 100 percent,'' he said. "But I realize how important these games are and I need to be out there. Obviously, we need a win and I'm willing to go out there not at 100 percent. I do feel I have a high pain tolerance and in the past I have come back from injuries pretty quick. I'm going to try to do everything I can to be out there.''
Ellsbury's absence comes at a most inopportune time for the Yankees, who are struggling to keep pace in the race for the second AL wild card spot. And Ellsbury has been the hottest hitter in their sputtering lineup, with 11 hits, including four home runs, in the four games of the team's current road trip, and is 20-for-44 (.455) over his last 11 games. He also leads the team with 64 RBIs.
"It's a big difference without him,'' third baseman Chase Headley said. "He's a great player for us. Any time you go without one of your best players, it hurts. But there's a lot of really good players on this team who can step up. But hopefully it's just a couple of days or a day and we'll get him back.''
With rosters expanding to 40 on Monday, there is no need for the Yankees to place Ellsbury on the DL. But Girardi could not estimate when Ellsbury might be healthy enough to return, especially since the club has made no official diagnosis of the injury, and will not until he undergoes a likely MRI after the team returns home Sunday night.
"You could call it an ankle sprain, you can call it whatever you want," Girardi said. "He wants to play; we just have to see what he's capable of doing."