BOSTON — Jacoby Ellsbury took a significant step in his rehab.

Months after suffering a subluxed shoulder during the team's home opener, the Red Sox outfielder stepped in the batter's box for pregame batting practice on Tuesday. And from skipper Bobby Valentine's perspective, Ellsbury had made impressive progress.

"He hit real well," Valentine said. "Swung the bat about 20 times [on Monday]. Did both live work and tee work today. He feels good. That's encouraging."

In addition to batting practice, Ellsbury has also begun to focus his baserunning. Before Tuesday's game against the Marlins, he worked on exploding from first to second — to sharpen his stealing skills.

Based on Ellsbury's recent strides, Valentine expects him to start his rehabilitation assignment very soon.

"[He's] close to playing, close to game activities," Valentine said. "I don't mean [on Wednesday]. But he's close. He's made great, steady progress."

Ellsbury tweeted a picture of himself in the cage, which you can see below.

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