The Red Sox are “optimistically” targeting Wednesday night in Colorado for Jacoby Ellsbury’s return, according to manager John Farrell.
“We talked about it as a possibility,” Ellsbury said Sunday before the Red Sox’s 5-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in the regular-season finale at Fenway Park. “I’m definitely ahead of schedule. The team, myself, feel very good about it. It’s a possibility.”
Sidelined since Sept. 5 with a non-displaced compression fracture of the navicular bone in his right foot, Ellsbury resumed baseball activities a few days ago, incorporating light running and hitting off a tee. And while Ellsbury said he’s “making great strides every single day,” his ability to manage the pain will determine how often he will be able to play during the season’s final week in preparation for Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Oct. 4.
The Red Sox are less concerned about Ellsbury’s timing at the plate — “I haven’t been out that long,” the leadoff-hitting center fielder said — than his first-step acceleration when he attempts to run at full speed.
Ellsbury doesn’t typically attempt many stolen bases during spring training, the idea being that he doesn’t want to risk injury before the season, and yet he has swiped at least 50 bases in three of the past six seasons. As a result, he doesn’t believe it’s essential that he tries to steal a base before the end of the regular season.
“Not really,” he said. “There’s a reason I don’t steal bases in spring training, and I come into the regular season and steal them right away. It’s something I really don’t need to practice. We’ll see.”
Said Farrell, “The work that he’s going through right now, the baseball activities are starting to ramp up, there’s been no setbacks,” Farrell said. “It’s an optimistic view, but I’d hope we’d be able to get him some at-bats on (Wednesday).”
A free agent after the season, Ellsbury is batting .299 with 31 doubles, eight triples, eight homers, 52 RBIs, 52 steals and a .355 on-base percentage in 131 games.
Red Sox notebook
— LHP Felix Doubront, who started Sunday and earned the win, is expected to move into the bullpen after that outing. He won’t be available until the final series of the season in Baltimore Sept. 27-29, though. That gives him limited opportunity to show what he can do in that role in the postseason.
— 1B Mike Napoli was not in the starting lineup for the second straight day Sunday. With an off-day Monday, manager John Farrell was looking to get some rest for Napoli, who dealt with plantar fasciitis in August.
— OF Jackie Bradley Jr. hit his third career home run Sunday against the Blue Jays, a three-run shot to put the Red Sox ahead. In his last three games, he is 5-for-10, batting .500 with a double, a home run, and three RBIs.