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Ellsbury’s Impact

mlb_a_ellsbury_gb1_300With only 13 games remaining in the regular season, the Red Sox are finding themselves racing to the playoffs without one of their best players.

All-star and gold glove centerfielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, is sidelined indefinitely with a compression fracture in his right foot; however, the good news is that the team expects him to return right in time for the post-season.

Ellsbury was initially injured on August 28, when he fouled a ball off the top of his right foot. Though he continued to play in games after the initial injury, it crept up on him again while stealing second base in the 10th inning against the Yankees last Thursday.

Ellsbury’s fracture occurred in the navicular bone of his foot and is very similar to the injury Dustin Pedroia suffered in in 2010. However, Ellsbury’s fracture is less serious, and unlike Pedroia’s, will not require surgery.

Dr. Thomas Clanton, a specialist, confirmed the diagnosis when Ellsbury received a second opinion in Colorado recently. It has been determined that the outfielder will wear a boot for at least five days, and will then be re-evaluated from there.

According to Ellsbury’s agent, Scott Boras, the biggest issue is the swelling in the foot. Once the swelling and inflammation goes down, Ellsbury will be able to swing a bat again and hopefully get into some games soon after that.

While Ellsbury might be able to help the team come October, his presence in the lineup will certainly be missed. There is no doubt that Ellsbury is one of the best lead-off hitters in the game, as well as one of the best defensive outfielders.

The Sox will have to piece together an outfield consisting of Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Daniel Nava or Mike Carp, during Ellsbury’s absence. It will be a good opportunity for the Sox to see what Bradley can do, especially since Ellsbury will be a free agent at the end of the season. The Red Sox have to make sure they are confident that Bradley can take over as the every day centerfielder since Ellsbury will likely demand a hefty contract, and could be lured away by a team that desperately needs an All-star outfielder, like the New York Mets.

For those who think Ellsbury’s market value will go down because of his injury, think again. Pedroia had a similar fracture, only worse, a few years ago, and still got his big payday when he signed an eight-year, $110 million contract extension two months ago. Ellsbury’s small fracture, which will only keep him out for a few weeks, will not in any way bring down his free agency value.

Ellsbury is still likely to get a long-term contract around 6-8 years, and in the neighborhood of $70 million. It’s less likely that the Sox will be willing to spend that much on Ellsbury, especially since they have Bradley waiting in the wings. However, the couple of weeks that the Red Sox will spend without Ellsbury could help determine what the future will be like in centerfield for the Sox.

Either Ellsbury’s absence will show the team that Bradley is ready to take over the reigns, or, it could determine whether or not the Sox will make a stronger push to keep the outfielder in Boston.

Only time will tell.

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