Red Sox notebook

Ellsbury sits out another

Soreness linked to previous injury

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / May 27, 2010

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — There was little information yesterday on the soreness in Jacoby Ellsbury’s side, which caused the Red Sox to change their minds about designating Darnell McDonald for assignment Tuesday. Ellsbury again was not in the lineup, and the Sox haven’t determined the cause of the discomfort, which continued as he took batting practice.

“He swung the bat today a little bit off the tee, and didn’t feel a lot better,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “So, as far as his status goes, I don’t know that we know.’’

The Sox are taking all the tests and scans of Ellsbury’s chest and side back to Boston and will show them to the doctors who have already examined the outfielder.

Asked if Ellsbury might land back on the disabled list, Francona said, “I hope not.’’

Ellsbury said he felt fine in the three games he started against Philadelphia and Tampa Bay, then did his normal routine Tuesday, a scheduled day off for him. Then the side began “barking on me,’’ he said, in the cage. He talked to the trainer, and after he finished hitting, the soreness got worse.

“It was kind of where I had my previous injury,’’ Ellsbury said. “I don’t know if it was kind of lingering there and I didn’t really know about it, but I’ll know more once we get back to Boston and I’ll talk to the doctors up there. Hopefully it’s something minor.’’

Ellsbury said the issue is along the ribs where he has four fractures, sustained in a collision with Adrian Beltre April 11 in Kansas City. He was unsure whether the issue was muscular and was uncomfortable speculating on the injury because of how little he knew.

He did say that the CT scan showed inflammation, “but we weren’t exactly sure where it was coming from.’’

He felt better when he woke up yesterday, but the discomfort returned as he tested his side, prompting him to stop.

“I had that sharper sensation like I did, kind of with my ribs, but we’re all comfortable that it’s not cracked,’’ Ellsbury said. “I think we can comfortably rule that out.’’

Lima remembered
When reporters approached David Ortiz to ask about his return to the No. 3 spot in the order, he was mystified. Turns out, Ortiz hadn’t yet checked the posted lineup.

“Good thing you guys let me know,’’ he said, “because I was going to be down there waiting for my fifth spot.’’

Last night was the first time Ortiz was at No. 3 in the order in a little more than a year; he was demoted from the spot on May 24, 2009. He earned the return with a .359 average, 8 home runs, 21 RBIs, and a 1.190 on-base plus slugging in May.

Asked what he has done to yield such a surge, Ortiz said, “Working. You’ve got to work. Work, work, and work. That’s all I know.

“I don’t feel like I have changed anything. I just feel more confidence. Good results give you confidence. That’s what I believe. Because when you work, work, work, and work, and you don’t see no good results, your confidence never shows up.’’

Ortiz did well in the No. 3 spot, with a two-run homer, a single, a walk, and two runs. As Francona said, “He feels good about himself. He’s playing with confidence. I think all the things I said back in early April maybe are starting to come true. That’s because he’s a good hitter.’’

While Ortiz has been more like himself lately, joking with reporters and teammates in the clubhouse, he turned serious yesterday when asked about the recent death of his close friend, former pitcher Jose Lima, who died of an apparent heart attack Sunday at age 37. Ortiz has been given permission to attend Lima’s funeral, which was originally scheduled for today in New York but was moved back.

“Lima was like a brother to me,’’ Ortiz said. “We go way back. Man, it’s just devastating to know that somebody who was doing so good would just go away like that. That crushed me. I was really crushed.’’

Francona also crossed paths with Lima, with the Tigers in 1996, when Francona was third base coach.

“I think enthusiastic would be an understatement,’’ said Francona. “He had a lot of gyrations. If you didn’t know him, probably perturbed some of the other teams. But he was a good-hearted guy. He would sit on the dugout and sign autographs for kids until there weren’t any left.’’

“I don’t think there’s one person that can say anything bad about Lima,’’ said Ortiz. “Lima was a guy full of great spirit. He brings good things, wherever he was going.

“We talked a while back when things wasn’t going too good for me. He was trying to tell me something, but all he did was just make me laugh. Everything coming out of his mouth was funny. But that was him, man. Just a person full of happiness. Just seeing him just go away like that, it hurt.’’

Ranks were thin
The Sox had just two healthy bodies on the bench last night in Bill Hall and Mike Lowell, with the injury bug hitting hard. Not only was Ellsbury unavailable, but J.D. Drew and Victor Martinez were given the night off. Martinez is still suffering from the toe injury he suffered Monday night when he was hit by a foul tip. “He feels better without his shoe,’’ said Francona. “It’s hard to figure out a way to get him in there without his shoe.’’ There is no timeline for when Martinez could start a game, though the Sox are likely looking toward tomorrow, when Tim Wakefield is scheduled to pitch against the Royals. As for Drew, the outfielder has been struggling with a hip flexor for the past few days. Given that they were playing their third straight game on turf, the Sox decided to give him a day off . . . The last time the Sox swept the Rays at Tropicana Field in a series of three or more games was Sept. 9-12, 2002, a season in which Boston won all 10 games in St. Petersburg . . . Kevin Youkilis walked twice last night, bringing him to 29 in May. That’s the second-highest total by a Sox in May since 1954. Carl Yastrzemski had 30 in 1970 . . . The Sox are still hoping that Josh Beckett can throw a side session tomorrow.

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.

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