Ellsbury makes his points

OF’s version of injury saga given

By Robert Mays
Globe Correspondent / July 11, 2010

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TORONTO — Jacoby Ellsbury wanted to keep his story straight.

Armed with a handful of torn-out notebook pages scribbled with talking points, Ellsbury gave his version of the saga that has kept him away from his Red Sox teammates for the last five weeks.

Before taking any questions while seated in the dugout before yesterday’s game against the Blue Jays, the 26-year-old outfielder spent nearly 11 minutes detailing the events that started with a collision with Adrian Beltre in Kansas City on April 11, breaking several ribs, and ended with his trip to Toronto Friday night. Ellsbury highlighted several details that contradicted statements previously made by team medical director Thomas Gill.

Ellsbury now contends that he suffered two sets of broken ribs in the collision with Beltre, disputing Gill’s belief that he broke a rib making a tumbling catch in Philadelphia on May 23 after he returned from the disabled list.

Ellsbury said he asked for MRI exams on his front and back, which he said were refused at first before agent Scott Boras contacted the team.

“Before the MRI, I specifically asked for a front and back MRI,’’ Ellsbury said. “That’s where the pain was — front and back. That’s important. Remember that — front and back. That’s what I asked for.’’

“That’s behind us,’’ said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. “The focus of Jacoby and the team remains on getting Jacoby healthy and ready to play as soon as possible.’’

Gill said he would not comment on the matter.

But a team source said Ellsbury did not complain of back pain in April or ask for an MRI on that area and was only cleared to start playing in May when he pronounced himself completely free of symptoms.

The Sox do not plan to get into a public dispute with Ellsbury and Boras over the course of treatment, the source said, fearing that only would serve to exacerbate what the source termed the player’s unpopularity within the clubhouse.

The original test results came back showing that Ellsbury had broken four ribs, all on the front side of his body. After returning to play three games, Ellsbury returned to the DL with back pain. The broken posterior rib was discovered during an examination by Dr. Lewis Yocum in California in early June.

Ellsbury said that along with the broken rib in his back, Yocum discovered an inflamed nerve and muscle strain. The exam was followed by a lengthy stay at the Athletes’ Performance training center near his home in Arizona.

“The Red Sox agreed, they were in favor,’’ Ellsbury said. “They were happy that I was going.’’

Ellsbury said that while he was in Arizona, the Sox received daily updates on his progress and his treatments, and that he was in “constant contact’’ with teammates and team personnel.

“Obviously, I wanted what was best for the team,’’ Ellsbury said. “I didn’t want this to be a . . . distraction.’’

Ellsbury searched through his pages before finding the word, which was just one of the many points he repeated several times. It is uncertain why Ellsbury would have considered his presence a distraction given that every other member of the team on the disabled list has remained with the club.

On Friday, first baseman Kevin Youkilis said he felt Ellsbury should have stayed with the team. When asked his reaction, Ellsbury maintained he felt like his choice was cleared by the team.

“Obviously, in the best-case scenario, I’d like to be back with my teammates, but for me to get better, the Red Sox thought it would be best for me to go out to Arizona,’’ Ellsbury said. “I talked to them today, and they said, ‘We back you 100 percent. That’s what we thought was best for you, getting you back playing and being productive.’ ’’

Ellsbury yesterday was checked out by head trainer Mike Reinold, went through a workout with strength and conditioning coach Dave Page, and then swung at balls on a tee under the supervision of hitting coach Dave Magadan.

Ellsbury is scheduled to travel to the team’s spring training facility in Fort Myers, Fla., tomorrow. The Sox are uncertain how much he will be able to do. Ellsbury has not played in a game since May 24.

“That’s what we’re going to see,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “It hasn’t been a lot up to this point. You’re certainly not going to dive in 100 miles an hour. But I think that’s part of the reason why we got him up here, to get a gauge on what he can do, how he feels when he does it, how much he can progress.’’

Peter Abraham of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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