TAMPA, Fla. — Without hesitation, Jacoby Ellsbury emphatically answered the question.
“Yeah, oh yeah,” the mostly forgotten man of the 2018 club said early Friday afternoon when asked if, in his mind, he will play for the Yankees this season. “That’s the plan.”
Ellsbury, who started the season on the disabled list with a right oblique strain and went on to experience a hip issue, a bout of plantar fasciitis and a problem with the sacroiliac joint in his back that required him to see a specialist last week, has been coming to the team’s minor league complex here regularly.
“I’m getting better,” he said, adding that he hopes to be playing in rehab games “in the near future.” But he did not know when he might start playing in rehab games or how many he might need once he starts them.
“I haven’t started the baseball activity yet, so that’s the first step,” said Ellsbury, who signed a seven-year, $153-million deal before the 2014 season. “Get in some games and go from there.”
He said figuring out the specific issue with his back was significant.
“Now [that] we know it’s SI [the sacroiliac joint], you can do specific exercises and you know what to do, you know what treatment to do,” Ellsbury said. “Happy we nailed it down.”
It’s no secret, of course, that the Yankees haven’t exactly missed him. If Ellsbury eventually gets healthy, it could complicate things; currently, there’s no obvious role for him.
“Our [outfield] depth has certainly shown,” Aaron Boone said.
Ellsbury said he’s “happy the team’s playing well” but that it’s been difficult to watch the season unfold from afar. “You want to be out there,” he said. “That’s all you can really say.”