Yanks: No Ellsbury return set yet

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Jacoby Ellsbury was supposed to spend his Thursday afternoon taking batting practice on the field at the Yankees' spring training facility in Tampa, Fla.

Instead, he spent it at a local hospital in an MRI tube having his troublesome right calf examined. According to the Yankees, the test came back negative, but there is still no word on when the $153 milion center fielder will return to action.

"This was good news. We got good news today,'' manager Joe Girardi said on the field at JetBlue Stadium, where the Yankees were preparing to play the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night.

"Our people decided to take a precautionary MRI to make sure there wasn't anything there, and it came back negative,'' Girardi said. "Everything is great.''

Ellsbury was scratched from the lineup before a March 16 game, a day after he left the field without taking scheduled batting practice. He has insisted the injury is so minor he would have played if this had been the regular season, but he has not run since first feeling the injury, described as "tightness,'' on March 14.

Ellsbury was scheduled to be in a batting practice group of regulars who did not make Thursday's road trip, but never appeared on the field or in the clubhouse.

Girardi announced Ellsbury had been sent for the MRI -- a diagnostic step the manager had said earlier in the week was unnecessary -- during pregame batting practice in Fort Myers four hours later.

"Well, they decided to do a precautionary,'' Girardi said. "I don't determine if a guy gets a test. I go by what my people tell me.''

Asked if he expected Ellsbury to be able to play this weekend, Girardi said, "That is my hope. But if not, we'll shoot for Tuesday then.''

The Yankees have home games on Friday and Sunday and another road trip to Fort Myers to play the Minnesota Twins on Saturday before having their final day off of the spring on Monday.

Girardi said that Ellsbury -- who has a history of serious injuries that have cost him large chunks of two of his past four seasons -- needed only three or four more spring games to be ready to play on Opening Day. Ellsbury is batting .174 this spring with four hits, including a home run and two doubles, in 23 at-bats.

Girardi rejected any notion that Ellsbury might be shut down for a time to allow him to heal fully for the regular season.

"No, no, no,'' Girardi said. "We want to get him out there. We got to get him ready for the season. For us, as soon as we can get him out there, we'll get him out there.''