Ellsbury's rehab stays on track

BOSTON -- Jacoby Ellsbury continues to rehab his broken foot with various activities, none of which are baseball related. While Ellsbury will not seem close to returning until he is running the bases and swinging a bat, the continued pool exercises are not an indication that his rehab has slowed.

“That is consistent with what he’s been doing since we returned off the road,” Farrell said. “That includes pool work, that includes ground base stuff in the weight room here and he remains in that same rehab program. Baseball activities are yet to be initiated. That hasn’t changed our feel and our thought that he’ll be back on the field before the regular season ends.”

As Ellsbury contends with a more serious matter, third baseman Will Middlebrooks is regaining his strength after a bout with a flu-like illness. He is out of the lineup for the second straight game Tuesday. Xander Bogaerts is starting at third.

“He’s available tonight,” manager John Farrell said of Middlebrooks. “As a matter of fact, he feels fine and ready to go but I just feel like he needs a day of work before we get him back in there.”

* Farrell did reference the playoff roster, but it did not involve his rotation. He hinted that if and when the Sox enter a postseason series, Middlebrooks could serve as the backup to second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

Middlebrooks made a couple of appearances at second earlier in the year. With veteran John McDonald in the fold, both Middlebrooks and Bogaerts have ceased to take ground balls at second, sticking only to the left side of the infield.

Come October, that might change.

“As we’ve said before, Will has been the guy that we’ve pointed to before Johnny Mac got here to go to second base,” Farrell said. “Depending on how that playoff roster looks, that option is still definitely open.”