BOSTON, MA: Jacoby Ellsbury #2 of the Boston Red Sox runs out on to the field before the start of the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays during the home opener at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
According to Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, Jacoby Ellsbury could jump his rehab assignment all the way from theGulf Coast League to Double-A's Eastern League as soon as Tuesday. The center fielder, currently on the 60-day disabled list recovering from a dislocated shoulder suffered just seven games into the 2012 season, has played in two games for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox of the Rookie League, manning center in one and slotting in at DH in the other.
The nifty dynamic at play with Ellsbury at Portland would be his playing alongside the recently-promoted Jackie Bradley, a name that just might supplant Ellsbury in center field in a few years, when the latter is a free agent. That's a long way off in baseball terms, for multiple reasons -- Ellsbury's deal isn't up until after the 2013 season, there's no real, concrete word on whether he's going anywhere, and Bradley, while highly-impressive, hasn't even completed his first full year as a pro as of yet -- but for those worried about the impending lucrative deal Ellsbury will command, it's a thought with obvious daydream appeal to it. With that in mind, this just might be the only time the two play side-by-side.
Ellsbury was last with Portland in 2010, while recovering from broken ribs, but before that, he began the 2007 campaign with the Sea Dogs. Baseball America rated him the #33 prospect in the minors that year, but after dominating Double-A for 17 games, surviving the promotion to Triple-A, and succeeding in his 33-game stint in the majors, they bumped him 20 spots before 2008, a season that signaled the end of his minor-league career. At least, the end in terms of development, since injuries have sent him back in two subsequent seasons.
Jumping all the way to Portland is a positive sign, as it means things are going well physically for Ellsbury -- he's just one stop from the majors for the first time in nearly three months, once this move is official.