Ellsbury shines in minor league play

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Gulf Coast League portion of Boston Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury's rehab assignment is nearing an end.

Ellsbury played six innings in center field on Tuesday, handling just one chance, a fly ball that required a moderate run for him to catch. Manager Terry Francona said before Tuesday's Red Sox game in Anaheim that the plan is for Ellsbury to work out Wednesday and play nine innings on Thursday.

Ellsbury went to the plate three times. In the first inning, he singled, stole second and continued to third on a wild throw. He eventually scored in front of a home run. In his second at-bat, in the second inning, he grounded into a double play, and in his final at-bat, in the fifth, he lined a single to left.

Francona had said Monday night that the plan was for Ellsbury not to go a full nine.

The 26-year-old outfielder has not played since May 24 and has appeared in just nine games for the Sox after fracturing five ribs in an April 11 collision with Adrian Beltre -- and subsequently straining a back muscle and sustaining nerve damage, he contends, because one of the fractured ribs had gone undiagnosed.

Francona has said the Sox have a couple of "calendars" for Ellsbury, depending on how he progresses, but he has not offered details. All three Sox farm teams in New England -- short-season Lowell, Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket -- are on the road this week. The PawSox, where Mike Lowell is rehabbing, are in Toledo until returning Saturday to play in McCoy Stadium, when coincidentally it will be "Jacoby Ellsbury Bobblehead Night.''

It is not unreasonable to expect that Ellsbury could be back with the Red Sox by next week.

Gordon Edes is ESPNBoston.com's Red Sox reporter. He has covered the Red Sox for 12 years and has reported on baseball for 25 years. Ask a question for his next mailbag here.