Sox notes: Ellsbury back in the lineup

Sox notes: Ellsbury back in the lineup
September 25, 2013, 9:45 pm
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DENVER -- Jacoby Ellsbury returned to the Red Sox lineup Wednesday following an absence of almost three weeks after sustaining a broken bone in his right foot.
      
Ellsbury, who visited with Dr. Thomas Clanton at the Steadman Group here Tuesday, was given clearance to return and was in his customary spot in center field and in the lineup as the leadoff hitter.
      
He singled in his first at-bat,  grounded out and walked in his other at-bats, and scored two runs before being replaced by Jackie Bradley Jr. in the bottom of the fourth.
      
"We're looking forward to seeing Jacoby back on the field,'' said John Farrell, "but probably no one (is looking forward) than Jacoby himself. He's been chomping at the bit to get back on the field and the work that he's gone through, not only has he been cleared by Dr. Clanton, but we're looking forward to him being back on the field.''
      
The Sox managed to 10-6 in the 16 games he missed, but clearly welcomed Ellsbury back.
      
"He can impact the game, obviously, as soon as he gets on base,'' said Farrell. "It's a threat, every pitch that's thrown, that he has the potential to steal. And what's been most impressive with the running game has been his efficiency. He's a student [of baserunning] and it really comes into play with how pitchers might look to attack hitters at the plate while he's on the basepaths."
      
Ellsbury had stolen 52 bases in 56 tries this season.
      
Farrell said Ellsbury would have the green light to run again as soon as he feels comfortable to do so.
      
"I think with all the running drills he's done,'' said Farrell, "he comes in here free of mind that he can't further the injury. He might deal with some soreness from time to time, and we would expect that. But even  prior to aggravating it [in New York], he was still dealing with some soreness and managing it. We're hopeful that will resume tonight.''
     
Farrell said he expects to have Ellsbury play Friday in Baltimore.
     
After that?
     
"We'll see where it goes from there,'' he said. "We'd like to get him as many at-bats as possible going forward, but we'll work off how he responds physically."
     
***
Farrell saluted Dustin Pedroia, who filled in as leadoff hitter while Ellsbury was out.
     
In 11 games, Pedroia collected 16 hits, hitting .327 with an on-base percentage of .365. He also scored eight runs in those 11 games and hit safely in 10 of those 11 contests.
     
"I think he had a base hit in every game he was in the top spot," said Farrell. "Sometimes, maybe hitters take on the [persona] of the spot in the order and if that affects their overall approach, that can be the case. But in Pedey's case, it's like a pitcher: it doesn't matter what inning; they go and they execute. And Pedey's no different. He goes out and executes to the sitaution.
     
"We've called upon him to set the tone for us in so many ways and that was another example," Farrell said.
     
***
Mike Napoli, who's been slowed some by plantar fasciitis, sat out his fourth straight game, but was available to pinch-hit.
     
The Sox are hopeful that the downtime will have the same affect that the last break -- at the end of August -- had on the first baseman. Napoli proceeded to get white-hot at the start of the month and has hit six homers in 17 games in September with an OPS of 1.260.
     
"He came back and swung the bat like he did for the first five or six weeks of the season,'' said Farrell. "When he's in those stretches, we're a completely different offensive team."