BOSTON -- Jacoby Ellsbury's a lot closer to returning to the field than he is to a long-term deal with the Red Sox.
The center fielder can't become a free agent until after the 2013 season, but any talks of a long-term deal to stay in Boston will wait until after this season.
"I'm sure Ben [Cherington, GM] and I will be talking," Ellsbury's agent, Scott Boras, said Wednesday. "We have to talk in the offseason. As to what that conversation will be about, I know at minimum it's going to be a year. Jacoby's focus is playing and getting back on the field and helping this team win."
Ellsbury is nearing a Minor League rehab stint after suffering a partially dislocated right shoulder in April.
"He's to the point where he's taking live batting practice," Boras said. "When you've had players that have been away for a while, you really can't make a lot of judgments until they've had three or four consecutive batting practices. Then you kind of know, if you get really sore, the soreness goes away. Once you're able to put away a number of consecutive batting practices, you get more of an idea of what the timetable may be from there. So I think, usually the format is you have a BP, rest, have a BP, then rest, then kind of see how you feel from there."
Boras said there have been no issues with Ellsbury's handling by the team and its medical staff, after there was a rift in 2010 when Ellsbury missed most of the year with broken ribs.
"Ben's been communicating with me," Boras said. "Jacoby's happy. The medical people have been great."
Perhaps in a show that the past is indeed the past, Boras asked "Was there a problem before?"
Boras and Cherington are no strangers. Despite this being Cherington's first year as Boston's general manager, he was fully involved with past negotiations with Boras and others. The two chatted Wednesday at Fenway Park with Boras in town for the introduction of Boston's top pick from the First-Year Player Draft, shortstop Deven Marrero.
"Ben and I have been working together for -- we were running the streets at 3 in the morning in Boston. That was for [Kevin] Millwood," Boras said. "We were meeting in one of the hotels here, going back and forth. Theo [Epstein] was home sleeping. He made Ben do all the work. He and Jed [Hoyer], we've actually worked together a great deal. He was doing a lot of things for Theo and communicating with me a lot."
Another Boras client, Daisuke Matsuzaka, is set to become a free agent after the season. The right-hander wants to remain in the United States instead of going back to Japan's professional leagues.
"He wants to stay in the Major Leagues. That I know," Boras said. "He tried to pitch here, we really didn't know he was pitching hurt that long."
Boras said he feels Matsuzaka has come back from Tommy John surgery with a "renewed attitude."
"The stuff's better. He's come back stronger," Boras said. "I've been very encouraged by his fastball, obviously expect the command to improve as he does more. The main thing for him is to establish his durability, keep the team in games and take the ball every five days. I think he is really really encouraged to be back pitching. His attitude is very, he's really pleased about being back and performing. Which is common when the game's taken away from you the first time."
Crawford heads to Florida to continue rehab
BOSTON -- The next time Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford is at Fenway Park, he could well be on the active roster. Crawford left Fenway on Wednesday and was scheduled to be in Fort Myers, Fla., by Thursday.
The Red Sox tentatively have a date when they want Crawford to enter game action, but manager Bobby Valentine did not reveal it. How Crawford fares in workouts in Florida will dictate that.
"There is one in pencil, of course," Valentine said.
Crawford, whose left (throwing) elbow was his most recent holdup, said Tuesday he was feeling strong, and Valentine echoed that Wednesday.
"He said he felt great," Valentine said. "When he left he said his elbow felt great, his body felt great and he's ready to get going."