Jacoby Ellsbury nearly ready for rehab assignment

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From Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston comes word that Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury is set to begin a minor league rehab assignment on Friday.

Ellsbury will start his rehab by serving as the designated hitter in simulated games at extended spring training in Fort Myers, Florida. If that goes smoothly, he will eventually be allowed to report to one of the organization’s minor league affilliates.

The 28-year-old center fielder has been on the disabled list since April 14 with a dislocated right shoulder. He registered a spectacular .321/.376/.552 batting line with 32 home runs, 105 RBI and 39 stolen bases across a league-leading 732 plate appearances last season and should provide a big spark for the Boston offense when he returns to major league action shortly after the All-Star break.