FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jacoby Ellsbury was chipper in the Red Sox clubhouse just after 8 a.m. Wednesday. He looked tanned and happy and said he was going back to the trainer’s room for more evaluation of his sore right ankle and heel. The center fielder injured the foot sliding back into first base base on a pickoff attempt Sunday against the Phillies in Clearwater.
“We’re checking it out,’’ said Ellsbury. “There’s been some improvements, I guess.’’
A half-hour later, when the lineup was posted, Jackie Bradley Jr. was in the leadoff spot, playing center.
“It’s more precautionary than anything,’’ said manager John Farrell. “We fully expect him back in the lineup [Thursday night against the Twins].’’
According to Farrell, an examination of Ellsbury revealed, “no structural issue. Nothing with the Achilles’. He just made an awkward return to the bag. We’ll give it one more day.’’
Ellsbury is hitting .250 with no homers and one RBI in 44 at-bats this spring.
He was one of four regulars who didn’t play Wednesday because of an injury. The Sox know that David Ortiz (Achilles’, heel tendinitis) is going to start the season on the disabled list, and have been playing without Stephen Drew (concussion) since Drew was hit in the head by a pitch early in the spring. Shane Victorino rested Wednesday after jamming his wrist in pursuit of a fly ball Monday in Sarasota against the Orioles.
Victorino went for an MRI after the collision and was ruled OK to play. Drew is doing baseball activities, but occasionally still has concussion symptons at night.
“Same old, same old,’’ the shortstop said. “I’m cleared to do everything, but just a matter of symptoms. I’m getting better, but until it’s fully recovered I’m just doing my hitting and ground balls and therapy.’’
Farrell said Drew and Ortiz would accompany the team to New York for the season opener Monday in Yankee Stadium. Victorino is expected to play Thursday night. Just like Ellsbury.
Bradley’s big day?
Thursday could be the day Bradley finds out he’s a big leaguer. All signs point to Bradley coming north with the team, and Farrell said, “We’ll probably like to have some sense of who our 25 guys will be by the end of the day [Thursday].’’
Bradley singled in the first Wednesday, struck out swinging in the third, walked in the fifth, grounded into a force play in the seventh, and grounded into a double play in the ninth.
“I feel good,’’ said Bradley. “I don’t really know about my chances. I don’t really worry about it. I sleep well at night. They’re pretty good at keeping secrets. I’m just enjoying it and trying to improve every single day. I don’t want anybody putting a bunch of expectations on me. I enjoy playing ball.’’
He’ll need to do something about the number when he makes it to The Show. Bradley is still wearing No. 74.
“My number is 19,’’ said Bradley. “With 74, I’d never get any calls from the umpires.’’
Farrell talked about “roster management,’’ which does not bode well for Daniel Bard. The Sox are likely to send him to Pawtucket and keep Clayton Mortensen, who is out of options. Wednesday was another tough day for Bard. He inherited a 1-0 lead in the seventh, then gave up three runs on three hits and a walk. “It’s completely out of my control,’’ Bard said. “It’s just a part of the game you live with. I feel good. You could put my outing today up against any in 2010. I feel like I actually threw the ball well. My fastball was in the zone when I needed it to be.’’ . . . Jonny Gomes hit his third home run of the spring for the Sox’ only run in a 5-1 loss. Mike Napoli was robbed of a homer (wind) in the first inning . . . Jose Iglesias was picked off first in the fifth . . . Clay Buchholz is on target to pitch the home opener against the Orioles April 8. If the Sox are rained out Wednesday or Thursday in New York, John Lackey could get pushed to the Fenway opener, which would be interesting . . . Catcher Ryan Lavarnway was optioned to Pawtucket. Lavarnway hit only .136 in 16 spring games. “The emphasis in spring training was on the defensive side,’’ said Farrell. “Game-calling was a strength. From a catching standpoint, he had a good spring. He needs to go down and hit every day.’’ . . . Ortiz is fighting a nasty head cold.
Equipment issues Dustin Pedroia was having equipment issues Wednesday morning. Unhappy with a pair of game pants that had been patched multiple times, he hung the shabby trousers over the desk of equipment czar Pookie Jackson and left a note that read, “I can get a pair of these at Dick’s [Sporting Goods].’’ Pedroia also was having trouble finding a helmet that fit. The Sox are using new protective headgear and Pedroia’s head rattled inside the first new helmet he tried. The alternate helmet was too small, which made one reporter wonder if Pedroia’s head was getting bigger — a common characteristic of players on performance enhancers. “No way,’’ said Pedroia. “My head keeps getting smaller. What’s that from? Rat poison?’’ . . . The Sox finish the spring with three games against the Twins, but have clinched the coveted Mayor’s Cup. Boston holds a 4-1 lead this spring and would retain the Cup even in the event of getting swept over the next three days. In the event of a tie, the team that won the Cup the previous spring retains possession . . . The Sox will be in New York Sunday but the Basic Agreement stipulates that they are not allowed to hold an official workout. Players who wish to work out are invited to come to Yankee Stadium early in the afternoon.