BOSTON — Jacoby Ellsbury might want to consider a new shin guard.
Ellsbury fouled a ball off his right foot during the seventh inning of the Red Sox’ 4-3 win over the Orioles on Wednesday. He stayed in the game, singled up the middle, stole second base and scored from second on Dustin Pedroia’s game-tying, two-run single later in the inning. But Ellsbury exited the contest prior to the eighth inning and gave the Red Sox quite a scare, although it appears that Boston has dodged a bullet.
“I got an X-ray on it, and it came back negative. I plan on being in there [Thursday],” Ellsbury said after the game. “It obviously didn’t feel good at all, but obviously it was a big point in the game, and I know we had to get in scoring position, and when Pedroia hit that ball, there was only one thing, and that was to score.”
Ellsbury said the foul ball that eventually drove him from Wednesday’s game found a little opening — between his foot and ankle — in his protective shin guard. Ellsbury briefly hobbled around near the batter’s box while being tended to by John Farrell and the Red Sox’ trainer, and MLB’s leading base stealer ultimately stuck it out long enough to use his speed to Boston’s advantage.
Jonny Gomes replaced Ellsbury in the field before the top of the eighth inning. Gomes went into left field while Shane Victorino and Daniel Nava shifted to center field and right field, respectively. It led to some tense moments, as the Red Sox were left to ponder — for at least two innings — what life would be like this season without a healthy Ellsbury atop the order and in center field.
“We’ll certainly examine him when he comes in tomorrow,” Farrell said. “If overnight there’s additional pain or swelling, we’ll take every precaution needed. But hopefully, this is a short-term thing. He’s been so important to us.”
Ellsbury reached base safely three times in Wednesday’s win, and he now has 49 stolen bases this season while being caught only four times (92.5 percent success rate). He’s been among baseball’s most dynamic players since mid-May, and the Red Sox can hardly afford to lose him down the stretch.
If Ellsbury holds true to his word and plays Thursday, he’ll silence concerns and help dispel the notion that he isn’t durable. The Red Sox must also be careful with their leadoff hitter, although the initial prognosis gives them reason to be optimistic after quite a scare.