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Jacoby Ellsbury's sprained ankle is a concern

Yankees' Jacoby Ellsbury reacts after he strikes out

Yankees' Jacoby Ellsbury reacts after he strikes out swinging to end the eighth inning against the Houston Astros in an MLB baseball game at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

TORONTO - Jacoby Ellsbury's sprained left ankle didn't show much improvement Saturday, and there's a real question whether the Yankees' hottest hitter will be returning anytime soon.

"I'd be really shocked if he played [Sunday],'' Joe Girardi said after the Yankees' 2-0 loss to the Blue Jays.

Ellsbury, 20-for-44 (.455) with four homers and 11 RBIs in his last 11 games, suffered the injury when he slid into Toronto catcher Dioner Navarro in the ninth inning Friday night.

The rosters can expand beyond 25 Monday, so there is no need to put Ellsbury on the disabled list. Girardi said if it were a different time of year, "it potentially could be a DL,'' and added, "We'd probably wait a couple of days to see.''

Ellsbury, who will be evaluated in New York on Monday, described the ankle as "sore'' and said he spent the afternoon getting treatment.

"Pretty much anything you can do to an ankle, we possibly did today,'' he said. "I'm staying optimistic about it. I'm a quick healer and I have a high pain tolerance so I have those things going for me, so I'm still holding out for [Sunday].''

But Ellsbury used the same word -- "optimistic'' -- after Friday night's game about playing Saturday, and Girardi said that turned out to be "wishful thinking.''

"I think he was trying to gut it out, but there was no way he could have played today,'' Girardi said.

Is he concerned that this could keep Ellsbury out longer than a day or two?

"Yes,'' Girardi replied.

Ellsbury showed a considerable limp in the clubhouse after Friday night's game and again Saturday.

"I realize how important these games are,'' he said. "Obviously, we need to win. I'm willing to go out there not at 100 percent. I do feel I have a high pain tolerance and in the past I've come back from injuries fairly quick. I'm going to try and do everything I can to be out there. This time of year, every win's important, and I need to be out there.''

Tanaka back in New York

Masahiro Tanaka, who experienced what was called "general arm soreness'' Friday after Thursday's three-inning simulated game in Detroit, returned to New York Saturday morning and worked out at the Stadium. He is scheduled to work out Sunday and Monday and will be evaluated by team physician Christopher Ahmad on Tuesday.

"He'll play catch for the next five or six days and our hope is to get him on a mound a week from the day he threw, on Thursday,'' Girardi said. "I still think there's time to get him back [this season] if there's no more setbacks, but if there was to be another setback, obviously there would be a lot of concern.''

Nice bounce-back

Two days after giving up Alex Avila's game-winning hit with two outs in the ninth inning in the Tigers' 3-2 victory Thursday, Shawn Kelley got out of a major jam Saturday. After Edwin Encarnacion singled and Navarro doubled against Michael Pineda to put runners on second and third with none out in the seventh, Kelley retired three straight, keeping the score at 2-0.

New York Sports