Jacoby Ellsbury could return to the Red Sox lineup as early as Wednesday after groin tightness forced him to sit out the three-game series against the Yankees in New York over the weekend.
The team’s center fielder and leadoff hitter did some running in the outfield and took batting practice in the cage before Tuesday night’s series opener against the Rangers at Fenway Park.
“Jacoby was on the field today,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “He did some running, some more functional activity. We’re hopeful that this takes a complete turn over the next couple of days, and that’s not ruling out his being in the lineup tomorrow. We had to get him through some functional testing today then see how he responds to that and how he feels tomorrow. So tomorrow is still a possibility for him to be back in center field.”
With a day off Monday, Ellsbury had four days to nurse the injury. Farrell said it’s unlikely Ellsbury will need a stint on the disabled list, which is already more crowded than the Sox would like.
Third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who was placed on the disabled list May 24 with a low back strain, began a four-game rehab assignment in Pawtucket Tuesday night. He is eligible to be activated Saturday, and Farrell said the team will evaluate him at the end of the week.
After testing his strained left hamstring in New York, outfielder Shane Victorino was on the field as well Tuesday doing sprints. Victorino was placed on the DL retroactive to May 21.
“Shane got up to about 80 percent intensity today,” Farrell said. “We’re hopeful that he’s out on a rehab assignment sometime here before the week is out.”
Once Middlebrooks returns, the Sox will have to make a decision about his current fill-in, Jose Iglesias. They called him up from Pawtucket and moved him from short to third after a crash course at the position with the PawSox a few days before, but he’s handled the move better than they could have expected so far.
Aside from playing error-free at third, he is hitting .431 after going 2 for 5 Tuesday night, making a case for a job as a utilityman.
Farrell said he was “open-minded” to keeping Iglesias in that role. He even moved over to play second base late in the 17-5 victory over the Rangers.
When asked what else Iglesias could do at this point to earn the job, Farrell said, “Just to go out and play the game as he has.
“Players tell you when they’re ready, and sometimes that doesn’t always work because there’s some things out of their control. But Jose has done an excellent job for us. And with very limited action at third base, he’s played it flawlessly.’’
Mike Carp had never been ejected from a major league game before and after being given the heave-ho by Andy Fletcher Tuesday night, he wasn’t quite sure how to explain how he earned his first one. “I don’t really know what went on that caused that,” he said. “I was in the dugout when it happened. I don’t really know what I said to tick him off when I’m down in the dugout.” The situation was already a strange one, with left fielder David Murphy on the mound for the Rangers in the eighth. Carp struck out looking at a pitch he clearly thought missed. “I literally just shook my head and walked away and I guess he came after me,” Carp said. “I guess you can’t shake your head.” . . . Not exactly known for his work on the base paths, David Ortiz has been flying around them this season. His second-inning RBI triple off Justin Grimm was his first since 2011. He was happy to put get one in the column, but quickly realized a 270-sprint is a entirely different from the home run trot he’s more accustomed to. “It’s fun and it’s not,” Ortiz said. For the third time in his career Ortiz doubled and tripled in the same game. He can add the triple to a base-running resume that also includes a pair of stolen bases this season. “My legs are feeling good,” Ortiz said. “And whenever I can take my chances, I’ll take them.” . . . When Jackie Bradley Jr. saw the change up from Grimm hang over the plate, he jumped on it, shooting it to right-center for his first career home run. “It felt good coming off the bat, and I’m glad to get the first one out of the way,” he said. The two-run homer was the highlight of a 1 for 5, three-RBI day for Bradley.Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.