Jacoby Ellsbury, David Ortiz closer to returning for Red Sox

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It looks like the banged-up Boston offense will soon get a boost.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Jacoby Ellsbury, who is out for a third straight game tonight, likely will return to center field on Tuesday.

The Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber also reports that David Ortiz will take batting practice and then have his heel examined to see if he permanently take the walking boot off his injured right foot.  He won’t return until Wednesday at the earliest and perhaps not until the weekend.

Finally, J.D. Drew, who last played July 20 before going on the DL with a left shoulder impingement, will begin his rehab assignment Friday with an eye towards a Sept. 1 return.

Unlike the other two, Drew won’t be welcomed back with an everyday job awaiting him.  However, with Josh Reddick slumping, Drew might be able to stake a claim to a piece of the right-field job if he impresses in the minors.  Reddick is hitting .226/.281/.358 with two homers and four RBI in 53 at-bats this month.

Rangers will not exercise Mike Napoli’s 2018 option

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The Rangers have informed 1B/DH Mike Napoli the club will not exercise his 2018 option, worth $11 million, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. Instead, the Rangers will pay Napoli $2.5 million to buy him out of his contract, making him a free agent.

Napoli, 35, hit a disappointing .193/.285/.428 with 29 home runs and 66 RBI in 485 plate appearances this past season. Given his age and declining production, it’s not shocking that the Rangers want to look elsewhere.

Napoli turns 36 at the end of the month. Given his age and worsening peripheral stats, he will likely have to settle for a one-year deal this offseason.