Jacoby Ellsbury will join fellow Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford in Fort Myers, Fla., to begin a rehab assignment Friday as a designated hitter in a Gulf Coast League game.
“It’s great,’’ said manager Bobby Valentine. “I’m optimistic, but I’m cautious. I think it’s great that we got him to the point where he’s ready to get back on the field, and that means you start looking forward to the time he’s on the field here. But he’s not on the field yet.’’
Ellsbury went on the 15-day disabled list April 14, one day after he suffered a subluxation of his right shoulder during a head-first slide into second base in the home opener vs. the Rays.
“I’m excited to get going,’’ Ellsbury said after Tuesday night’s 5-1 victory over the Blue Jays.
Asked if he thought he’d feed off Crawford, and vice versa, as they rehabbed, Ellsbury said, “We’ve both worked hard. We’ve been here early, put the time in, and it’s definitely going to show.’’
Valentine said Ellsbury took batting practice and did some work in the field before Tuesday night’s game against the Blue Jays, shagging fly balls and making throws to first base coach Alex Ochoa.
“[Hitting coach] Dave Magadan really likes the way he was looking,’’ Valentine said. “I saw him [Monday] and he looked strong.’’
Valentine said Ellsbury would DH Friday, meaning that Crawford, whose last two rehab games were rained out, likely would begin working in the field.
Crawford, who started the season on the disabled list after offseason surgery on his left wrist, was hampered during his recovery by a lingering issue with his left elbow. Once that was resolved, Crawford began game activity in Fort Myers, going 0 for 3 with two walks in his first stint as DH Saturday.
“I think Carl was ready to play in the field when the rain hit,’’ Valentine said. “Maybe that’s why [Ellsbury’s] DHing, because Carl doesn’t need to.’’
While Ellsbury and Crawford likely will see action in the same game - Ellsbury at DH, Crawford in left field - Valentine said it was not realistic that they would be on the same recovery track.
“Jacoby had spring training at-bats, but he’s also had about three months off,’’ Valentine said. “I think that’ll be an individual taste situation.
“I think he’s close. I think the medical staff has the DH as the first step in, to get his legs underneath him a little.’’
Clay Buchholz, who was placed on the 15-day DL Sunday because of a gastrointestinal illness, remained at Massachusetts General Hospital Tuesday in what Valentine termed stable condition.
After Valentine admitted to being “a little in the dark’’ on Buchholz’s ailment, the Red Sox issued a statement during the game stating that the pitcher was suffering from esophagitis, which led to an erosion of the esophagus and associated gastrointestinal bleeding.
“Clay is doing well and is expected to make a full recovery,’’ said the statement.
Asked if he was concerned about the cause of Buchholz’s problem, Valentine said, “I’m not sure that I’m going to ever know that. It seems like a personal situation. Or, maybe I will. So the answer is no, for now.
“But it’s not like a need-to-know baseball situation, because it’s not a baseball-related situation.’’
Saturday for Beckett
Josh Beckett (shoulder inflammation), who is eligible to return from the 15-day DL Thursday, is expected to pitch Saturday night, in the third game of a four-game set in Seattle.
The Sox will travel to Seattle Thursday to begin a seven-game trip that includes three games in Oakland July 2-4.
Valentine has contemplated going to a six-man rotation in an attempt to accommodate Beckett’s return.
“Yeah, I’m considering it - until the All-Star break,’’ he said.
Andrew Bailey, whose recovery from thumb surgery seemed to hit a setback, played catch Tuesday. “He felt pretty good,’’ Valentine said. “Next it’ll be some flat-ground [throwing], then it’ll be to the mound.’’ . . . Ryan Sweeney, who went on the DL June 17 (left big toe inflammation), was fitted with an orthotic Tuesday. “He got his boot off and had a special orthotic made for his left inner sole,’’ Valentine said. “He has some issues with the bottom part of his leg that are being manipulated and dealt with to try to alleviate the problem.’’ . . . Brent Lillibridge, the utility player who was acquired from the White Sox in exchange for Kevin Youkilis, made his first start with the Sox Tuesday night, playing center field. “I guess it’s better to get it over sooner than later,’’ he said. Lillibridge went 0 for 2 before Daniel Nava pinch hit for him in the three-run seventh . . . In the fourth and final All-Star voting update, David Ortiz maintained a healthy lead over Texas’s Michael Young for the DH spot, with 3,128,711 votes to 2,564,572.
Jays sign Moyer
The Blue Jays signed 49-year-old lefthander Jamie Moyer to a minor league deal. Moyer, who pitched for the Red Sox in 1996, became the oldest pitcher to win a game earlier this season with Colorado . . . Toronto manager John Farrell, the former Red Sox pitching coach, bore witness to Daniel Bard’s implosion as a starter June 3 at the Rogers Centre, where Bard lasted just 1 2/3 innings, allowing five earned runs and six walks and hitting two batters. “Pitchers go through good stretches and not-so-good stretches,’’ Farrell said of Bard, whom he last coached in 2010. “He’s a talented pitcher, and knowing his work ethic, weeks ago, he’ll get things right and get back.’’ . . . Mark Melancon spent the rain delay during Monday night’s game watching his Arizona Wildcats capture the College World Series with a 4-1 victory over South Carolina. “I’m just ecstatic for coach Andy Lopez and the team and the whole Arizona athletic program,’’ Melancon said. “It’s an honor to be part of such a great school and alumni.’’