- Joe McDonald, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury on Monday began what he hopes to be a brief minor league rehab assignment before returning to Boston's lineup.
Ellsbury, who suffered a hairline fracture to four ribs on his left side during a collision with Red Sox third baseman Adrian Beltre on April 11 in Kansas City, served as the Pawtucket Red Sox's designated hitter and went 1 for 3 with two runs scored, a walk and an RBI from the leadoff spot at McCoy Stadium.
"It felt pretty good," he said. "I still have soreness, but that was coming into the game and it didn't get any worse so that's the biggest thing."
No doubt there was a little hesitation before he stepped into the batter's box and it showed in his first two at-bats. He grounded out to short and second respectively before singling to right field and reaching third on a two-base error by the right fielder in his third at-bat. He drew a walk in his fourth plate appearance.
"The first two ABs you're just trying to get your feel back," he said. "The bat feels really light and you're trying to struggle to find the head of it. The third AB I was locked in a little bit and found my swing."
Since the PawSox closed out their homestand Monday (with a 5-4 loss to the Syracuse Chiefs), Ellsbury will head north and play for Double-A Portland on Tuesday instead of traveling with Pawtucket.
"Performance-wise he was outstanding," PawSox manager Torey Lovullo said.
Ellsbury is scheduled to play either left or center field for the Sea Dogs on Tuesday and then he'll be re-evaluated in Boston on Wednesday before a decision is made whether he'll return to the Red Sox lineup after that.
"It's one of those things that's going to be there for the remainder of the year and will probably heal up during the offseason," he said. "Next year it'll be 100 percent. I'll have to deal with it, but it felt pretty good today."
On his base hit to right field, Ellsbury was quick out of the box and when Chiefs right fielder Chris Duncan failed to come up with a diving catch, Ellsbury never stopped and ended up on third on the error.
"It was just instinct and that was the best part about it. I just went out there and played. I didn't really think about anything at all," Ellsbury said.
With Ellsbury standing on third, PawSox teammate Josh Reddick lifted a fly ball to left field. Ellsbury tagged up on the play and needed to slide into home to avoid the tag, but the throw bounced and hit him in the back before he was called safe.
"I was kind of happy to actually get hit by the ball in the back," he said. "That's baseball and that's part of the game. I felt like I was back once the ball hit me."
Ellsbury walked in his fourth plate appearance and scored when Reddick hit a triple.
"Watching him go first to home was pretty impressive," Lovullo said. "He's running full speed without any limitations. He's taking full swings without any limitations. The results aren't anything we're concerned about; it's about what he's doing to get to that point. We thought he was great."
With the PawSox trailing by a run in the bottom of the ninth inning, Ellsbury could have stepped into the box for a fifth time, but there were strict orders not to deviate from the game plan, so Lovullo sent Angel Sanchez in to pinch hit for Ellsbury.
While there were no issues in Monday's game with the PawSox, Ellsbury said his biggest concern would be once he has to dive for a ball in the outfielder, or needs to slide head first on the bases.
Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox and Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.
Jacoby Ellsbury 'felt pretty good' in first game of rehab stint.