Jacoby Ellsbury 'looked like he hadn't missed any time at all'

September 26, 2013 - 5:48 am

The Red Sox had seen it before. Indeed, John Farrell had seen first-hand, as the Red Sox pitching coach from 2007-10, that an outfielder can miss virtually all of the final weeks of a season only to return seamlessly at season's end. In 2007, Manny Ramirez suffered a strained oblique at the end of August, missed four weeks and returned for the final week of the season, going 7-for-18 with three walks in six games as a tuneup for the playoffs. In October, he proved a force, hitting .348 with a .508 OBP, .652 slugging mark and four homers in 14 games. He also delivered one of his most memorable homers with the Sox, launching a walkoff missile against Francisco Rodriguez of the Angels in Game 2 of the American League Division Series. The next year, J.D. Drew missed most of his team's final six weeks of the season due to a lower back train and herniated disc. He landed on the DL after incurring the injury on Aug. 17, he made it back for just two games in the final week of September, and there were questions about whether he would be included on the postseason roster. Included he was, and Drew ended up delivering three hits of mammoth significance: A game-winning homer in the ninth of Game 2 of the ALDS against Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez (sound familiar?), a two-run homer in the eighth inning as part of the Sox' historic comeback from a 7-0 deficit in Game 5 of the ALCS against the Rays and then, in the same contest, the walkoff single to deep right to complete an 8-7 win that helped send the series to a Game 7. Now, Jacoby Ellsbury is attempting to repeat that history. And on Wednesday, he offered a promising first step -- following his three weeks to permit the broken navicular bone in his right foot to heal -- to suggest he might be able to do just that. Ellsbury went 1-for-2 with a single (a seven-pitch at-bat to lead off the first in which he spoiled three two-strike sliders before whacking a single to right) and a walk. "First at-bat, looked like he hadn'€™t missed any time at all. He came out of it feeling the same as when he started so that was the most important thing here tonight. But just to get him back on the field was a big step," Farrell told reporters after his team's 15-5 win over the Rockies. "He'€™s much improved. I can'€™t say he'€™s 100 percent. It'€™s not to the point where it'€™s holding him back on the bases, in the field or in the box so a good step tonight.'€ For his part, Ellsbury suggested that it was a reassuring sign that he would indeed be ready for October baseball. "We were pretty optimistic that I would recover fast and be back on the field before the regular season. We felt that from day one, but I know they're pleased with how fast everything healed up," said Ellsbury. "It's just good to get back out there before the postseason starts. ... I feel very comfortable with me going out there and playing. That's kind of where we're at right now." It was a promising return, but not an unprecedented one -- a fact that gives the Red Sox reason for optimism about the state of their lineup entering the postseason.