NEW YORK – Jacoby Ellsbury is a big reason the Boston Red Sox are closing in on a playoff trip. Now, they can only hope he’ll be back in time to join them.

The center fielder has a broken right foot, leaving the AL East leaders without a key offensive catalyst as they try to wrap up the division title.

Red Sox Manager John Farrell said the team believes Ellsbury will be back this year, and hopes it will be during the regular season. But there is no specific timetable for his return, and the speedy leadoff hitter will keep wearing a protective boot on his injured foot for five days.

“After that, we’ll see how he responds to treatment and how he’s feeling,” Farrell said after Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the New York Yankees.

Ellsbury had an MRI on Saturday and returned to Boston for further examination. Then he went to Colorado to get a second opinion from foot specialist Dr. Thomas Clanton at The Steadman Clinic.

Farrell says tests confirmed the diagnosis of a compression fracture, which means it’s non-displaced.

Ellsbury leads the majors with 52 stolen bases. He’s batting .299 and has scored a team-high 89 runs.

YANKEES: Manager Joe Girardi said Derek Jeter probably will be held out for a couple days before further evaluation of his surgically repaired left ankle, which caused him to miss Sunday’s game against Boston.

Girardi said he is concerned about the lingering injury to Jeter, but there is no thought about shutting him down for the rest of the season at this point.

“It’s something he’s had to deal with all year, and we’ll continue to manage it,” said Girardi, adding he’s not sure what the Yankees can expect from Jeter the rest of the way.

“My hope is after a few days it calms down and we can get him back out there. You’ve got to really go day by day.”

PIRATES: Starting pitcher Charlie Morton headed back to Pittsburgh after injuring his left foot against St. Louis and won’t accompany the team to Texas.

METS: All-Star pitcher Matt Harvey will have his sore right elbow examined by respected sports doctor James Andrews to help determine if the 24-year-old ace needs reconstruction surgery to repair a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament.

ASTROS: Paul Clemens was scratched from his start against Oakland because of a blister on his right hand and was replaced by Lucas Harrell.

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