Victor Martinez Could Return Monday, Jacoby Ellsbury Close to Rehab Starts

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July 25, 2010

Victor Martinez Could Return Monday, Jacoby Ellsbury Close to Rehab Starts

The Red Sox injury report is reading less like a novel and more like a short list, which is good news for the boys from Boston.

The original starting five reunited for the first time since May 19 with the return of Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett last week, shoring up an inconsistent pitching rotation.

But now their once-prolific bats are ailing the Red Sox. Formerly the highest scoring team in the majors, Boston (now in second) has scored fewer than five runs in nine of its last 10 games. The Red Sox are 4-6 in that stretch.

The weary lineup should be getting some serious help from switch-hitting catcher Victor Martinez, who could be activated as soon as Monday.

“I’d say it’s a possibility,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona told MLB.com on Saturday. “It’s not in concrete, but it’s certainly a possibility. Talked to [general manager] Theo [Epstein] about it today, and because of the way he’s swinging the bat and where we are, sending him back to play one game [in the minors], I don’t know if that makes a lot of sense.”

Francona’s club could certainly use the help at the plate. Out since June 27 with a fractured thumb, Martinez holds a .289 average with nine homers and 38 RBIs and could slide into the middle of the order to provide some much-needed pop. Kevin Cash, who has started almost exclusively since Martinez was placed on the DL, is batting a measly .178 and has just four RBIs.

Martinez caught Buchholz’s side session on Saturday and will warm up pitchers in the bullpen in Sunday’s series finale in Seattle. If he isn’t activated to start the series against Anaheim on Monday, Martinez should be back behind the plate shortly thereafter. Francona, however, isn’t going to rush anything.

“The idea is ? not trying to get guys back before they’re ready because then you get the name but you don’t get their production,” Francona said. “That’s not what we’re shooting for. Victor is a really good player. But we want him to be healthy so he can be a good player.”

Based on Martinez’s personal assessment, though, the switch-hitter should be starting in Anaheim.

“I felt great today,” Martinez said Saturday. “It was a good test, catching Buchholz in the bullpen session. The only thing I can say is that I’m pretty close. So we’ll see how it goes tomorrow.”

In other promising lineup news, Jacoby Ellsbury is one big step closer to rejoining the club.

Recovering from broken ribs, the speedy center fielder could start in the Gulf Coast League on Monday and Tuesday, splitting roles as a designated hitter and outfielder. If all of that goes smoothly, he may head to Triple-A Pawtucket shortly after that.

The Red Sox’ leadoff man has played in only nine games this season.

Infielder Mike Lowell is lighting up Pawtucket as he rehabs back from hip surgery. The veteran went a perfect 4-for-4 with three doubles for the PawSox on Saturday while playing first base, and should start at third base on Sunday. Lowell still remains the subject of trade talks, with the Rangers and Tigers maintaining interest just six days before the trade deadline.

Although not nearly as close to returning as some of their teammates, second baseman Dustin Pedroia and catcher Jason Varitek are making progress as they both recover from a broken foot. Pedroia, always a fast healer, is further along than Varitek, and will be examined by an Angels physician on Monday. Varitek, meanwhile, will undergo another CT scan in Boston on Friday.

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