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Ellsbury returns to the Red Sox lineup

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  September 29, 2012 05:26 PM

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BALTIMORE Jacoby Ellsbury, who last played on Sept. 20, is back in the Red Sox lineup after resting a strained left lat muscle.

"Hopefully he won't have any feelings as we go through our pre-game batting practice and everything and he can play the next few days and go home on a good note," Bobby Valentine said.

Why not shut Ellsbury down?

"He wanted to [play] and he's a good player and it's a pennant race that teams are in. We should put our best foot forward," Valentine said. "This isn't a situation that is threatening, the way I see it. It's just to get him to feel 100 percent and I guess he does. If there's anything that could take five days of his winter, where he can't work out as much as he'd like to, I wouldn't even think about it. But that doesn't seem to be the case."

Ellsbury hit .321 with a .928 OPS in 2011 and was second in the American League MVP voting. But he has played only 70 games this season and hit .277 with a .704 OPS. He has four home runs in 285 at-bats after slugging 32 in 660 at-bats last season.

"I didn't see him play that way this year. Never quite hit his stride this year," Valentine said. "I had a lot of conversations with the coaching staff about it and a few with Jacoby about it. It's just the feel; he hasn't had the feel from what I gather."

Also:

The Red Sox will pitch Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester and Daisuke Matsuzaka in the Yankees series to end the season. The Yankees will pitch CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Hiroki Kuroda.

The Orioles unveiled a statue of Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson before the game. Cal Ripken Jr., Earl Weaver, Boog Powell, Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray and a bunch of other notable O's are in attendance.

"He made the play coming in on it as well as anyone I ever saw," Valentine said. "He was one of the kindest, most considerate people I've ever talked to, in uniform and out of uniform. Somehow he came up with those big hits. Even though his swing didn't always look that good, he found a way to hit a ball in the gap."

Robinson was the American League MVP in 1964 and won an amazing 16 Gold Gloves from 1960-75.

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