Ellsbury's rehab finally nearing completion

Ellsbury's rehab finally nearing completion

TORONTO -- It was a long time coming, but outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury was finally reunited with his teammates on Friday, as the Red Sox opened up their weekend series against the Blue Jays in Toronto.

Ellsbury, who has spent the majority of the season on the disabled list with a left chest contusion, flew into Toronto around 7 p.m. ET on Friday from the Athletes Performance Institute in Arizona, where he has been rehabbing the past few months.

While Ellsbury's visit will be brief, as he is only in town to be evaluated by the club's medical staff before the All-Star break, he relishes the opportunity to catch up with his teammates, his second family.

"First of all, I'm just happy to be back with the team," Ellsbury said. "It's nice to see the guys, and it's nice to see that the guys have stepped up and kept us in the race and done a tremendous job."

Ellsbury was cleared prior to Saturday's contest to resume baseball activities. The 27-year old said he has felt much better swinging, throwing and running, an encouraging sign for this beaten-down ballclub. He is scheduled to fly out of Toronto with the Red Sox and continue baseball activities in Fort Myers, Fla., on Monday. Depending on how quickly he progresses, Ellsbury could begin a rehab assignment shortly thereafter.

Though in a pleasant mood at Rogers Centre on Saturday, Ellsbury said that the recovery process has been long and frustrating. He was particularly disappointed about a misdiagnosis by the team's medical staff after his initial injury on April 11 against Kansas City, when he collided with Sox third baseman Adrian Beltre tracking a fly ball down the left-field line.

"Obviously, after the collison with Adrian in Kansas City, I got X-rayed and told it was a bruise," Ellsbury said.

After missing several games with the pain not subsiding, Ellsbury was placed on the 15-day disabled list and requested to have an MRI performed.

The Oregon native underwent an MRI that revealed four broken ribs on the front-left side of his body. While Ellsbury was under the impression he was having an MRI performed on his back at well, this was not the case.

After resting for a few weeks, Ellsbury began to feel better and was told the pain in his back was merely a byproduct of his body compensating for the bones broken in the front of his rib cage. Once Ellsbury began a rehab assignment, he felt, though not fully healthy, that he was at the point he could help the team win. He rejoined the team May 22nd in Philadelphia and played in two games, followed by a game in St. Petersburg.

It wasn't until a scheduled off-day in St. Petersburg that Ellsbury realized that something serious was indicated by his lingering back pain.

"My timing was off, so I did some extra work in the cage and started to feel a tremendous pain in my lat area," Ellsbury said.

The outfielder was once more placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 25th.

"Fast forward to Cleveland [June 7-10], and it's been a couple weeks and my symptoms are getting worse," Ellsbury said. "So now my breathing starts to affect me."

At this junction, both the Red Sox and Ellsbury believed it would be best to have the young speedster see a specialist in California. Ellsbury again underwent an MRI, this time front and back.

The MRI revealed that Ellsbury had been playing with a broken rib in his back from his initial collision with Beltre. Since the injury was left undiagnosed for so long, Ellsbury also had to deal with a strained lat and an inflamed nerve surrounding the rib.

The outfielder was permitted to recuperate at the Athletes Performance Institute in Arizona. Ellsbury said he was given the team's blessing to do so, given that he didn't want to be a distraction to the team. Details of Ellsbury's workouts and routines were meticulously recorded and relayed to the club on a near-daily basis.

After months in Arizona, Ellsbury is happy just to begin baseball activities and catch up with some old friends.

"I just want to move on; [I] want to be a baseball player," Ellsbury said. "[It's] obviously annoying, but I enjoy being with these guys."

James Hall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.