Ellsbury bats leadoff in return to lineup

Ellsbury bats leadoff in return to lineup

Ellsbury bats leadoff in return to lineup
BALTIMORE -- After more than a week on the shelf, Jacoby Ellsbury returned to Boston's lineup on Saturday night, batting first and playing center field.

After going 1-for-4 and scoring a run, Ellsbury declined multiple chances to reveal the nature of his injury.

"Nothing real exciting to report on. It's just good to be back," said Ellsbury.

Why doesn't he want to say what it was?

"We just kept it that way," Ellsbury said. "Yeah. I'm just happy to be back, you know?"

Ellsbury is expected to play in the season's final four games, provided there are no recurrences from the undisclosed nagging injury that kept him out of the lineup.

"It felt good. It felt good to be back," said Ellsbury. "Unfortunately we couldn't get that win, but I thought we played hard."

Why was it important for Ellsbury to play before the season ends, even though the Red Sox aren't playing for anything but pride?

"Just because he wanted to and he's a good player and it's a pennant race that teams are in and we should put our best foot forward," said Valentine.

Last year at this time, when Valentine was making evaluations for ESPN, he felt that Ellsbury deserved to be the American League's Most Valuable Player Award winner over Justin Verlander.

"You know, I based my thoughts last year on most of the statistics that were turned in at the end of the year," Valentine said. "I saw him maybe five games [live], and he played really well. I didn't see him play that way this year. He never quite hit his stride this year."

When those comments were relayed to Ellsbury after Saturday night's game, he appeared to be taken a little off-guard.

"I haven't really thought of it," Ellsbury said. "If you think of it, you can get back to me tomorrow on that one. I don't really have a response right now."

One obvious reason it was tough for Ellsbury to find a groove was his three-month, 79-game absence with a right shoulder subluxation. But it had to be more than just that.

"I don't know," Valentine said. "I've had a lot of conversations with the coaching staff about it, a few with Jacoby about it. It's just the feel. He hasn't had the feel, from what I gather."

Ellsbury feels the entire season would have played out differently if not for the shoulder separation.

"You give me the at-bats, and my numbers will be right there," Ellsbury said.