BOSTON -- Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury has begun physical activities as he works his way back from a fracture in his right foot.
Ellsbury, who has been out of action since Sept. 5, was re-examined Friday and given the go-ahead to remove the boot protecting his injured foot in order to engage in limited exercise. The activity does not include anything baseball-related, as Ellsbury initially will take part in exercise inside a pool and mix in limited dry-land workouts. While it is just a baby step in the speedster’s return, it is timely.
“Based on the exam and the second opinion, this was the first day to begin that [exercise] so he’s on target as far as that initial plan,” manager John Farrell said Friday afternoon before the Sox hosted the New York Yankees in the first of three games.
Ellsbury was diagnosed with a compression fracture of the navicular bone in his right foot. The team still has no timetable for his return and the hope remains that he will be back prior to the postseason. Farrell said Ellsbury’s tolerance for each new activity will dictate the duration of the recovery period.
* Jake Peavy made it clear there was no need to talk about the line drive he took off his wrist in Thursday’s loss at Tampa Bay.
Peavy told reporters after the game that his wrist was fine, something X-rays supported and Farrell backed up again one day later.
“There’s no residual effect and even last night his comments were pretty honest about that. It wasn’t really worth reporting,” Farrell said. “Given that it was a line drive, but he had no ill effects finishing out the inning. He’s fine.”
Peavy is lined up to go next week against Baltimore at Fenway Park.
* Clay Buchholz, who had a successful return to the mound Tuesday against the Rays, will start the series finale against the Yankees on Sunday. Farrell said there is no set pitch count for Buchholz, adding that the intensity of the contest will dictate how long the righty can last.
Buchholz threw 74 pitches in his first start in three months against Tampa Bay. Although he looked sharp, there was no need to push the issue.
“Basically coming out of his final rehab start to match the number of pitches previously thrown is the norm because you’re going to ramp up the intensity first time back in the big leagues,” Farrell said. “I didn’t want to compound it with jumping him up 15 or 20 extra pitches along with the intensity. He came through it fine.”
* Pawtucket was scheduled to host Game 3 of the Governors’ Cup on Friday night. The earliest its season can end is Saturday, but the best-of-five series with Durham could last through Sunday, after which Boston will be able to pluck some players to help fortify its bench or bullpen.
Farrell would not provide any names of potential call-ups. Some will be rewarded for their play with the promotion while other decisions are based on roster fluctuations with an eye toward 2014.
“All those things are involved,” Farrell said. “And at least some of the initial conversation that would continue to grow in the offseason on guys that either they’re out of options next year or factor into our planning as far as depth. That’s all probably a normal conversation that’s including those things.”
* Pawtucket has already provided a handful of relievers, particularly Brandon Workman and Drake Britton, who have gained the trust of the Red Sox. As the club heads down the final stretch, Farrell often deals with the temptation to test such youngsters and see how they respond to particular situations.
“There are and have been a couple of situations where you want to see a guy, how he responds to it,” Farrell said. “Not to say that you’re looking to sacrifice a game but the opportunity for growth in a certain moment can far outweigh maybe some negative results. We’re also in a position where we’ve got a number of guys that are going to be in that position for the first time. We can’t run from that.”
As the postseason approaches, other bullpen-related decisions will be made, such as when to move a starter to the pen in anticipation of a playoff series, and who that starter would be. With Buchholz’s return, the Red Sox have six healthy regular starters. Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront, both of whom have bullpen experience, comprise the back end of the current rotation, with Doubront’s most recent turn being skipped.
Both are candidates for such a move, and both could be left off a playoff roster entirely.
“Probably depends on who that might be,” Farrell said. “Going with a four-man rotation versus five [down the stretch], who’s the guy that comes out, has there been some experience in that before, do we trim back a pitcher because we’ll need an extra position player. That’s kind of a sliding scale to a point right now.”
* Friday night’s contest with the Yankees marks the beginning of Boston’s final homestand of the season. The Sox enter with a 47-25 mark at Fenway Park, tops in the American League. There was a time when Boston annually displayed such dominance at home, but it has been rarer in recent years.
From 2003 to 2009, the club won at least 50 games at Fenway six times. It has had totals of 46, 45 and 34 the last three years, with more road wins over the last two seasons combined.
The current team has looked much more comfortable in the cozy confines.
“The one thing that stands out is our guys respond to the environment in here,” Farrell said. “Any time you come off the road either after a long road trip, the energy that is created here, our guys thrive on it.”
Farrell said that while the acquisition of Shane Victorino was done in large part because of the way he would fit in right field at Fenway Park, the bulk of the offseason moves were made with other ideas in mind.
“The bigger picture is who would embrace the environment here and the challenges that are presented and that’s probably common through the eight or nine free agents that were signed,” Farrell said.