Compression fracture for Jacoby Ellsbury; return in 2-3 weeks possible

September 08, 2013 - 1:23 pm

NEW YORK -- Red Sox manager John Farrell said that a visit by center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to Dr. Thomas Clanton in Colorado confirmed the team's initial diagnosis that the leadoff hitter suffered a non-displaced compression fracture in his right foot when he slammed a foul ball off of it in an Aug. 28 game. Farrell said that Ellsbury will remain in his walking boot for five days, and that the team will see how he responds to treatment thereafter. As ominous as that sounds, Farrell said the team is hopeful that Ellsbury will be back. "The exam that he went through, the images taken in Denver concur with what'€™s been found in the exam in Boston and he does have a compression fracture," said Farrell. "That means it'€™s non-displaced. But at the same time, we feel like he'€™ll return this year. He'€™s in a boot right now, will be for the time being. We feel like he'€™ll be back to us before this year is out. ... We're hopeful of the regular season." The Sox don't have an exact timetable for his return yet, beyond the five days when he'll remain in a boot, according to Farrell. But given that Ellsbury was able to play on his foot after suffering the fracture to his navicular bone, it would appear he is in a separate category of injury from teammate Dustin Pedroia, whose final three months were largely erased by a more severe navicular fracture. "I talked to him when he did it. He was asking me about it, because it's kind of the same area. I just told him, when I did mine, I couldn't walk right away. So if something's wrong, it's a good sign that you were able to go run and do things," said Pedroia. "We've got to get him better. He's a huge part of what we do." A year ago, outfielder Cody Ross missed exactly one month after he endured a navicular fracture. In Ellsbury's case, there is the possibility of an even more accelerated return. According to an industry source, his small, non-displaced navicular fracture is considered to be to a peripheral part of the foot, with surgery not considered a necessary outcome. The fracture is much smaller than the one suffered by Pedroia. While Ross' fracture was likewise small, it was on the underside of the foot, a more vulnerable area. For Ellsbury, the injury is on the inside of the foot, in a small area that his ankle pad did not protect. "If you think of [the navicular] bone as a piece of styrofoam, you take your thumb and push it into the styrofoam and leave a little dent, that's basically what you're talking about with a compression fracture," said Dr. Chris Geary, chief of sports medicine at Tufts. "A direct impact to the bone compresses it. It's nothing that's in danger of failing with increased stress." Complete healing for a fracture typically requires as much as a few months, but improvement to the point of permitting him to play -- something he was already able to do at a relatively high level for seven games (with a .313 average, .353 OBP and .469 slugging mark) before irritating the injury while scoring the game-winning run against the Yankees on Thursday -- is expected to take place on a faster schedule. Because the injury occurred 10 days ago, the team is hopeful that within a couple of weeks, the outfielder -- who has been out since Sept. 5 -- would have some healing, with the possibility that he could play again in the next two to three weeks, which would put him in position to return late in the regular season and certainly by the playoffs. In the meantime, however, the team remains optimistic that, as has been the case with injuries to other key contributors (whether David Ortiz at the start of the year, Shane Victorino in mid-season, Clay Buchholz for three months, Andrew Bailey, Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Miller for the majority of the year), it can continue to win in his absence. "Knowing Jacoby, he's going to do what he can to try and play. I'm not a trainer or doctor, so I don't know what they've told him or what his decision is. I know that he wants to be out there. At the same time, we've got a lot of guys in this clubhouse who can pick him up," said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "You don't want to lose anybody like Jacoby, but we've just got to continue to fight and do what we do."