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Jacoby Ellsbury, David Ortiz closer to returning for Red Sox

Kelly Shoppach, Jacoby Ellsbury

Boston Red Sox’s Jacoby Ellsbury, right, hits a three-run home run in front of Tampa Bay Rays catcher Kelly Shoppach in the third inning of the first game of a baseball doubleheader in Boston, Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)


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.