Jacoby Ellsbury said Wednesday he is “very confident” he can return to the Red Sox lineup for the postseason. The center fielder has missed 11 games since being diagnosed with a small fracture in his right foot.
In his first comments to the media since Sept. 5, Ellsbury was succinct. He referenced his doctors 11 times and offered few details about his treatment or when he could return.
Ellsbury has a non-displaced fracture of the navicular bone. The injury initially happened on Aug. 28 and he played seven games before it was diagnosed.
“Definitely trying to be in there as long as I could,” Ellsbury said. “The docs basically had to pull me out, saying, ‘You’ve got to let this thing rest. Give it time.’
“Kind of deep down, I knew something was going on. But I wanted to play.”
Ellsbury saw a specialist, Dr. Thomas Clanton, in Colorado on Sept. 8 and was placed in a medical boot. He has since traded that for an insole in his right shoe and started workouts, but nothing related to baseball.
“I don’t want to get into details on everything that I’m doing,” Ellsbury said. “Getting here early. Just following the plan that the docs have set in place.”
Ellsbury twice said he wants to “push the envelope” with the doctors. But when asked directly whether he could return before the end of the regular season on Sept. 28, he dodged the question.
“Just following the doc’s orders on what he has in store for me,” Ellsbury said.
Ellsbury wouldn’t say whether he aggravated the injury stealing second base on Sept. 5, something the Red Sox have said was the case.
“I just know moving forward that once it does heal there will be no issue moving forward. It’s going to be a full recovery,” he said.
Manager John Farrell said medical reports suggest it’s realistic for Ellsbury to return before the end of the regular season.
“I think we’re all envisioning him being back on the field before the regular season has concluded,” the manager said. “I think it would go a long way in Jake getting some timing, some recent at-bats and all that. That won’t be the driving force in him getting back on the field, his readiness will be.”
Does Ellsbury believe he needs to play in a game before the postseason?
“You know, I’m not real sure,” he said. “Right now I’m focused on getting back to the team.”
Farrell is not quite ready to discuss the postseason roster. But he did reveal a few clues, saying the Sox will likely go with 11 pitchers for the five-game Division Series because of the two offdays built in.
This would allow the Sox to put one of the extra starters — Ryan Dempster or Felix Doubront — in the bullpen. They also could carry a specialty player like pinch runner Quintin Berry.
Farrell also said he had an idea of who he wanted to start Game 1 of the Division Series but that the decision was not final. It would be an upset at this point if that were not Jon Lester.
“We have a lot of internal discussion to go through before we identify [a Game 1 starter] and work backwards from that on when those starts might take place in that last weekend or the last two series,” Farrell said.
Keeping tabs on Tito
As the Sox try to wrap up the division, Farrell is keeping track of the Cleveland Indians and old pal Terry Francona. They spoke a few days ago.
The Indians are in the thick of the wild-card race, raising the possibility of the Sox and Indians meeting in the Division Series.
Farrell is not surprised Francona has the Indians in contention.
“Not at all. They’ll run through a wall for him,” he said. “Even when they’ve had some injuries, whether it’s to [Justin] Masterson or some other guys, guys are stepping up. It’s kind of characteristic of his teams.”
Jarrod Saltalamacchia had one stolen base in the first 580 games of his career. He has four in the last eight. What gives?
“I think it’s in the hair,” Farrell said.
Some of it is luck. Saltalamacchia stole third on Tuesday night as part of a botched hit-and-run because Orioles third baseman Manny Machado missed the tag.
“It looks like we pulled off a double steal. We screwed up a hit-and-run,” Farrell said.
But there is element of skill, too.
“He hasn’t gotten faster overnight,” Farrell said. “But he’s taken advantage of situations.”
Dustin Pedroia (2 for 6) has hit safely in all eight games since becoming the leadoff hitter in Ellsbury’s absence . . . Craig Breslow got two outs in the eighth inning. He has allowed two earned runs over his last 28⅔ innings and has a 1.01 WHIP over that stretch . . . Will Middlebrooks (3 for 4) snapped an 0-for-17 skid. He had missed the last two games with the flu . . . Baltimore DH Danny Valencia is 11 of 22 against the Sox this season with five extra-base hits. He was 4 for 28 with one extra-base hit for the Sox last season.