CLEARWATER, Fla. — Both Jacoby Ellsbury and manager John Farrell believe the ankle injury the outfielder suffered while lunging back to first base in Sunday’s 7-6 exhibition win over the Phillies is minor and that Ellsbury should be back on the field by midweek.
Ellsbury reached on catcher’s interference in the first inning, and then lunged back to the bag awkwardly on a pickoff throw.
“I was trying to get in and beat the tag, and jammed my foot and rolled my ankle,” Ellsbury said.
“It was one of those things where you’re not far enough to dive back headfirst, but far enough to go feetfirst. I stepped on the base and rolled the ankle.”
Ellsbury attempted his first stolen base of the spring right afterward, because “I was testing it out on a 3-2 count, hoping [Dustin Pedroia] would swing, but it’ll be good.”
Ellsbury said when he ran out to center field for the bottom of the inning, he could feel the ankle getting tighter. “I’m sure we’ll look at it tomorrow, but I feel good about it.”
Ellsbury was hit for the next time through the order.
“We took him out for precautionary reasons,” said Farrell. “We’ll examine him in the morning. Hope this is nothing more. Once we get past the offday [Tuesday] we’re cautiously optimistic he gets back.”
Later in the game, Farrell saw Shane Victorino, who shifted from right field to center in place of Ellsbury, slam against the fence and get up gingerly after making a catch on a Ryan Howard drive.
“We were running out of center fielders,” Farrell said.
Victorino added, “I don’t know who won the war, but I made the catch.”
Farrell said Stephen Drew, who took grounders and batting practice, may be getting closer to game action. He still has an occasional concussion symptom, but they have diminished.
“It would be ideal to get him into a game or two before camp breaks,” Farrell said. “We’ll see the way the next two days go.”
Farrell said earlier in the day that Drew is his starting shortstop, even if he isn’t ready for Opening Day. Jose Iglesias, who made some fine plays in the field and stroked three hits to improve his average to .273, will be the starter in the interim.
“He was signed for that reason, [to be the starter],” Farrell said of Drew. “A temporary injury situation is not going to alter our course on that. That’s not to take anything away from Jose. He’s had a very good spring. There’s a different air about him in the box.”
From the home front
Ryan Dempster threw 96 pitches in an intrasquad game back in Fort Myers. In what amounted to five innings, Dempster allowed six runs on nine hits (at least five of which were aided by the wind) with five walks and a hit batter. He struck out six and allowed home runs by Keury De La Cruz and Ryan Sweeney.
Dempster will have one more start in camp. He is lined up to face the Yankees April 4.
Here is how the other major leaguers did in intrasquad games:
Koji Uehara — 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP. 17 pitches, 11 strikes.
Andrew Miller — 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HBP. 18 pitches, 10 strikes.
Mike Carp — 0 for 4, BB, K.
Pedro Ciriaco — 0 for 5. Five innings at shortstop.
Daniel Nava — 1 for 2, HBP, BB, K.
Lyle Overbay — 1 for 3, BB, 2 K.
Ryan Sweeney — 2 for 4, HR, 2B.
Jeremy Hazelbaker made an unbelievable catch to end the fifth inning of the game in which Dempster pitched. He raced into left-center and caught the ball over his shoulder before running into the fence . . . Felix Doubront, Joel Hanrahan, Miller, and Andrew Bailey are scheduled to pitch in minor league games at Fenway South on Monday. Many of the position players are expected to appear, too . . . David Ortiz continued to hit. The plan is to keep him in Fort Myers to allow him to work at his own pace and start a running program. Ortiz has the right to veto and join the team . . . Farrell said Daniel Bard’s one inning was “better than last time.” Bard allowed two hits but struck out the side. He was at 95-97 miles per hour. “His arm slot was lower early and then he got back up. Threw better fastballs today,” Farrell said . . . Victorinohad a strange conversation with Phillies reliever Jonathan Papelbon as he came off the mound in the sixth. Papelbon seemed perplexed the inning had ended after he induced a double-play grounder. Victorino was up next. “He forgot that he had come into the inning with one out,” said Victorino, shaking his head.