Ellsbury powering up as health increases

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Ellsbury powering up as health increases

BOSTON Jacoby Ellsburys first-inning solo home run tied the game. He went 2-for-4, adding a sixth-inning double off the wall in left, with two runs scored and an RBI, extending his hitting streak to a season-high seven games. While it was just his second home run of the season, he has hit in 12 of his last 15 games, at a .324 clip, going 22-for-68 with seven doubles, a home run, eight RBI, and 11 runs scored.

Still, Ellsbury, who missed 79 games with a right shoulder subluxation before being activated from the disabled list on July 13, insists hes not doing anything differently, just making regular progress.

Yeah, feel good at the plate, he said. Throughout a course of a season you have good months, you have better months. Ive only been back for a month, a little over a month, a month and a half, so its just a matter of time.

Of his 29 hits in August, 11 have been doubles. Ellsbury hit in the third spot in the lineup Monday against the Royals. It was his third game starting there, the first time in his career hes been in the starting lineup in the No. 3 spot. Moving him to that spot earlier in the homestand, manager Bobby Valentine said he hoped it would help Ellsbury be more aggressive at the plate. Ellsbury, who is hitting .274 overall this season, is now 5-for-13, batting .385 in the third spot, with a home run, two doubles, four runs scored, and an RBI.

Its all just a matter of feeling better, Ellsbury said.

Thats the plan, he said. Through the course of a season always getting stronger, always getting better. Yeah, squaring up balls. Even some of the outs have been hard.

Ive always felt like I get strong, stronger as the season goes on. Thats a tribute to my workouts in the offseason. I always try to be stronger as the season goes on.

Valentine has seen the differences.

Ive seen a more aggressive hitter whos driving the ball better, hitting with some power and really impressive on the bases, Valentine said. Seems like his body is really feeling good about baseball right now. And giving us that first run, tying it up that quickly, you never know how big that is but I think it was big. Hitting off the wall doesnt hurt, either.

As expected, Red Sox send Swihart to Pawtucket

As expected, Red Sox send Swihart to Pawtucket

Blake Swihart wasn't going to win a job. Monday merely made that official.

Swihart was optioned out as the Red Sox made further cuts, sending a player who could still be the Red Sox catcher of the future -- well, one of them anyway -- to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he's expected to work on his receiving.

Swihart hit .325 in 40 Grapefruit League at-bats.

"Had a very strong camp and showed improvements defensively. Swung the bat very well," manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida.  "For the player that he is and the person that he is, you love him as a person. He's a hell of a talented player.

"He made some subtle adjustments with his setup [defensively]. That gave him a different look to pitchers on the mound. Pitchers talked positively about the look that they got from him behind the plate. I think it softened his hands somewhat to receive the ball better. And there were a number of occasions where he was able to get a pitchers' pitch called for a strike, so the presentation of the umpire was a little bit more subtle and consistent then maybe years' past."

Sandy Leon's hot hitting in 2016 earned him an automatic crack at the lead catching spot for this year. Combined with the fact that Christian Vazquez looks great defensively, went deep on Sunday and is out of options, Swihart was the obvious odd man out.

He had options, the others didn't.

Deven Marrero was also optioned to Pawtucket. Sam Travis -- who, like Swihart, could break camp with the 2018 team -- was reassigned to minor-league camp, as was catcher Dan Butler.

The Sox have 38 players left in camp, 32 from the 40-man roster.

Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg likely headed to disabled list

Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg likely headed to disabled list

Righty Tyler Thornburg seems a guarantee to join David Price on the disabled list to start the season.

Thornburg, the biggest acquisition Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski made for the bullpen this winter, was scratched Monday because of a spasm in his upper right trapezius — not a great sign for a pitcher who already had throwing shoulder issues this spring.

Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida the spasm was “not shoulder related.”  But the trap, a large muscle along the neck and back, does extend to the shoulder blade.

Dombrowski told reporters it is most likely that Thornburg starts the year on the disabled list. More is expected to be known Tuesday, possibly after an MRI.

Robby Scott could be a replacement for Thornburg. If so, the Sox would likely have three lefties in the bullpen, along with Fernando Abad and Robbie Ross Jr.

"Possibly. Possibly," Dombrowski said of Scott. “We still have to make those decisions. But possibly.”

Dombrowski didn’t indicate a desire to go outside the organization for now.

Thornburg had barely enough time to get ready for Opening Day prior to Monday’s setback. If he indeed starts the season on the DL, Joe Kelly would be the eighth-inning reliever for the Sox — a role Kelly was headed for anyway given Thornburg’s shaky spring.

Thornburg, 28, had a 2.15 ERA last season for the Brewers. The Sox picked him up at the winter meetings in a deal that sent Travis Shaw and prospects to the Milwaukee Brewers.