BALTIMORE Jacoby Ellsbury didnt want to speak much about it, but he filled in as the designated hitter while batting in the leadoff position Thursday night against the Orioles.
Hes been battling a lower body issue the past few weeks thats more nagging than debilitating. Ellsbury was scratched three hours before a home game two weeks ago over the same issue, but the lineup wrinkle Thursday was more about manager Bobby Valentine wanting to give him the trendy half-day off. With David Ortiz out of the lineup, hes been able to sprinkle around some DH time to all of his regulars as a little bonus breather.
Ellsbury has hit .346 (9-for-26) with four runs scored, four doubles, three RBI and three stolen bases in the six games against the Indians and Orioles on the trip, and currently holds a 38-game hitting streak against Baltimore.
So, this was a way to keep his hot bat in the lineup for a Sox team that desperately needs a victory.
The last couple of days weve been concerned about a little leg situation, and this is just being overcautious and aware of the situation, Valentine said. Hes fine. I said do you want a day off? and he said No, noabsolutely not. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. I want to play with this.
I dont know if guys like hearing about that stuff. Its a situation where we dont want to make it a big thing by talking about it or by having it become a big thing.
So, its clearly not a big thing. Is everybody clear on that now?
Earlier on this trip, Dustin Pedroia had served as the DH in Cleveland for the first time in his major league career in much the same role.
It stands out a little bit when a Gold Glove caliber center fielder known for his speed and range in the outfield is seemingly wasted in the DH spot, but its about maintenance for players late into the regular season.
The Sox center fielder said his lower body feels fine, and it was simply his turn to get a little bit of a break from his skipper.
Different guys have been doing it, so its just me today, said Ellsbury. Ive played the last couple of days. It felt good.