Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Baseball [Print without images]

Friday, May 21, 2010
Updated: May 22, 2:16 PM ET
Ellsbury: I'm pretty close to 100 percent

By Joe McDonald
ESPNBoston.com

PHILADELPHIA -- Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who has been chomping at the bit to play since suffering a hairline fracture to four of his left ribs in a collision with third baseman Adrian Beltre on April 11 in Kansas City, will return to the lineup on Saturday against the Phillies. Ellsbury is likely to play center field as Mike Cameron continues his rehab from an abdominal tear.

"We'll activate him tomorrow unless there's a problem on the bus tonight on the way home," said manager Terry Francona.

Ellsbury made three rehab appearances (two with Double-A Portland and one with Triple-A Pawtucket) before he was given the go-ahead to return to Boston.

Ellsbury
Ellsbury

"I'm excited to get back," he said. "I've been working out and staying in shape, so it's exciting."

He admitted that he won't be completely healthy until he's able to rest during the offseason, but the sharp pain he was having has gone away.

"I'm pretty close [to 100 percent] and I feel comfortable and that's the big thing," he said.

During his minor league rehab appearances, Ellsbury said he was a little hesitant to dive for a ball or slide head-first into a base. Now, on the eve of his return, he has no hesitation. He said there's also no issue swinging the bat.

Until Cameron comes back, Ellsbury is anticipating playing center field.

"The guys who have filled in have actually done a pretty good job," said Francona. "There's no magic button you push that the day you activate him, he's going to get hot. Over the course of the year, if he's a good player, that'll show."

Cameron continues to rehab with the Portland Sea Dogs.

"We want him to come back and play and be able to play the whole year," said Francona "He says, 'There's only one way to play and that's full-out.' We just want to make sure when he comes back he can do that."

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins and Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.