By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
HOUSTON -- Jacoby Ellsbury returned to the lineup Saturday night, a night after missing a game because of illness.
"I don't think he feels great, but he's good enough to play," reported manager Terry Francona, "he's he's still kind of scuffling."
Francona also had Adrian Gonzalez back in right field for the second time in the last four games, with David Ortiz taking over at first base.
Ortiz had eight at-bats through the first seven game of the three-city road trip, enough so that he didn't get stale, though it's worth noting that Ortiz was hitless in those first eight at-bats and last got a hit on June 20.
"He's got his stroke," said Francona. "I'm thrilled about that."
Selections for the All-Star Game will be made Sunday and a number of Red Sox players seem positioned to make the American League squad.
It's a given that both Adrian Gonzalez (1B) and David Ortiz (DH) will be chosen for the game. Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and second baseman Dustin Pedroia are also strong possibilities.
On the pitching staff, it's expected that both Jon Lester and Josh Beckett will be given strong consideration, though Lester may be ineligible for the game since he's scheduled to start July 10, the final day of the first half.
Under rules introduced by MLB several years ago, starters who start games on the Sunday before the game can be chosen for the game, but aren't eligible to complete because of a lack of rest.
Reliever Daniel Bard, who had somewhat of a tough April, has been almost unhittable of late.
Bard went into Saturday night with a scoreless streak of 15 innings, covering 13 games. In that span, Bard has struck out 15 batters and allowed just four singles and three walks in that span.
At the same time, lefty Franklin Morales has been effective since coming off the DL following some elbow soreness.
He's made three appearances since being activated and has retired all five hitters he's faced. Francona is unafraid to use him in close-and-late situations and left him in the game Friday night when Houston manager Brad Mills went to a righthanded pinch-hitter.
Carl Crawford hit on the field for the first time since going on the DL and ran at about 70 percent effort. He's eligible to come off the DL Sunday, but probably won't be activated until the middle of next week.
Meanwhile, Francona acknowledged what's been obvious for a while: Clay Buchholz (back spasms) won't pitch again before the All-Star break.