NEW YORK -- Jacoby Ellsbury patrolled center field at Yankee Stadium for the first time in more than a week on Saturday, coming in as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning of the Yankees' 2-1 win over the White Sox after missing the previous seven games. He should be back in the Yankees' starting lineup in Sunday's series finale.
Ellsbury had last played on May 6 against Boston, when he strained a muscle in his right hip while running the bases in the first inning. Having built up his running regimen over the course of the week, he was ready to return to game action on Saturday.
"We knew we had him for defense today," manager Joe Girardi said after Saturday's game. "You'll probably see him for offense tomorrow."
Ellsbury didn't bat on Saturday, but that was only because the home half of the eighth inning ended with him on deck. Girardi said that Ellsbury's fielding was an encouraging sign.
Before the game, both Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman had said the Yankees' plan was to have Ellsbury available off the bench on Saturday, then start him on Sunday. Everything seemed to proceed accordingly.
Ellsbury's return would deepen the Yankees' outfield rotation and could also provide a boost to the top of the lineup. The 32-year-old was hitting .302 with a .373 on-base percentage, one home run, five doubles and five stolen bases in his last 53 at-bats before he was injured.
David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.