Ellsbury has hairline fractures in 4 ribs

BOSTON -- Dismayed by Jacoby Ellsbury's lack of progress toward getting back on the field, the Red Sox sent the 26-year-old outfielder for a CT scan Thursday. The results, manager Terry Francona said, "threw everyone for a loop.''

The test showed that Ellsbury has hairline fractures in four of his ribs, a result of his April 11 collision with third baseman Adrian Beltre in Kansas City. Ellsbury was placed on the disabled list Tuesday, retroactive to April 12, and is eligible to come off the DL next Tuesday, when the team is in Toronto.

That would appear unlikely, although Francona said he was uncertain what impact the new diagnosis would have on his timetable.

Dr. Thomas Gill, on a conference call with reporters, did not offer a guess on when Ellsbury will return.

"We keep people out of competition until there is no tenderness, don't have problems breathing and there is no stress," Gill said. "[It's] strictly symptom-based -- these injuries are based on how long the symptoms last. As soon as he can swing, run, field and do everything he is supposed to do -- he can return."

Ellsbury had twice undergone X-rays, but because there was no displacement of the ribs, the X-rays did not show the fractures. Thursday was the first time he was administered a CT scan.

Francona said that was standard protocol.

"You treat the symptoms,'' he said, "and once you're not able to play, go back and do the CT scan.''

Gill said that the course of treatment for Ellsbury would have been no different even if the hairline fractures had been detected sooner.

"Whether something is a rib contusion or a hairline fracture or a mainly displaced or non-displaced fracture of the ribs, all those injuries are treated the same way," Gill said.

"There really is not a question of whether there's a hairline fracture. We treat all injuries as if they probably are. That's why we typically don't get CT scans or MRI scans right away, after a potential rib trauma. We get the X-ray, and assuming it doesn't show a displaced fracture, we end up treating these things the same way. We'll still continue to treat Jacoby exactly as we did before."

Ellsbury had taken batting practice Tuesday to assess whether he could play, but continued to experience sharp pain and an inability to draw a deep breath. He was placed on the DL at that time, with Darnell McDonald activated to take his place.

McDonald, who hit a game-tying pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning and a game-winning single in the ninth, was starting in center field for the second straight night Thursday.

Ellsbury was moved from center field to left this season. His replacement in center field, Mike Cameron, also is on the disabled list.

Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.