ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Following an absence that lasted one day shy of three months, Jacoby Ellsbury returned to the Red Sox lineup Friday, sufficiently healed from his right shoulder subluxation suffered during the team's home opener on April 14.
"It feels good to be back in the lineup,'' said Ellsbury. "I worked hard to get back to this point, so I'm definitely excited.''
Ellsbury played eight games in the minors as part of his rehab assignment and said he's been cleared by medical personnel to play as he ordinarily would.
"I feel comfortable,'' said Ellsbury. "The doctors and myself are confident. You should expect to see the normal me. I'm going out there and playing hard and I'm excited to be out there today.''
It may take time for him to fully regain his timing at the plate, but Ellsbury thinks that will come quickly.
"I'm ready to go,'' he said. "I feel good, as good as you can coming back. I'm very confident, but most importantly, just excited to be out there and we're all hoping for a great second half from the team.''
Frustrated by the long layoff, Ellsbury said it was "frustrating'' to watch as his team slogged through the first half shorthanded, finishing with a .500 record.
But with Ellsbury back and Carl Crawford expected to join him next week, the team may be ready to take off.
"We're excited,'' he said. "We have a great opportunity. We're definitely within striking distance and there's a lot of games left. There's a lot of great ballplayers on this team and we're excited about this opportunity. We're getting guys back.
"I think guys have done a tremendous job (while they've been out). We're in a great position and we're looking for a strong second half.''
Manager Bobby Valentine was uncertain whether Ellsbury will play every game this series.
"We'll just take it day-by-day,'' Valentine said. "I don't have a long-term plan. We'll obviously have to see how he feels. He looks great.''