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.

Report: Steven Matz has been pitching through pain, may need elbow surgery

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Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that Mets starter Steven Matz has been pitching through pain for most of the season. He may need surgery to fix a nerve issue in his elbow. Matz was sidelined in spring training with an elbow injury and made his regular season debut on June 10.

Matz, 26, has struggled over 13 starts, posting a 6.08 ERA with a 48/19 K/BB ratio in 66 2/3 innings. Many were scrambling for explanations for his pitching woes and now they have it.

According to Carig, the Mets let Matz skip his bullpen sessions to help him pitch through the pain. Given the Mets’ shoddy history of dealing with injuries, that’s not a good look for the club.

Carig noted on Twitter that Jacob deGrom offers some optimism for Matz’s case. deGrom underwent right elbow surgery to repair ulnar nerve damage last September and bounced back to have a great season this year.

Clayton Kershaw’s simulated game went so well he threw an extra inning

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Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw was scheduled to throw three innings in a simulated game on Monday. That simulated game went so well, he threw an extra inning, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Kershaw will make a minor league rehab start next and could be activated towards the end of next week.

Kershaw, 29, has been on the disabled list since July 24 with a lower back strain. That put the pause button on another outstanding season. He’s carrying a 15-2 record with a 2.04 ERA and a 168/24 K/BB ratio in 141 1/3 innings.

The 87-35 Dodgers have run away with the NL West, needing some combination of 20 wins and 20 Rockies losses (19 for the third-place Diamondbacks) to officially clinch the division. While the Dodgers are all but mathematically assured of reaching postseason baseball, the club would still like to get Kershaw as ready as possible over the next month-plus.