For the first time since the end of last season, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford were in the same lineup yesterday.

Alas, it was in a minor league game in Fort Myers.

Nevertheless, it represented progress for the injured Red Sox outfielders, both of whom are inching toward returning to the majors shortly after the All-Star break.

Playing in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, the first stop in the minors for recently drafted teenagers, Ellsbury batted leadoff and served as the designated hitter in the first game of a rehab assignment in his comeback from a partially dislocated right shoulder suffered April 13 at Fenway Park [map]. He finished 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI double, struck out twice and "got through the performance without incident," according to Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine.

Meanwhile, Crawford played seven innings in left field, although he didn't get any defensive chances, as he recovers from a sprained ligament in his left (throwing) elbow that has prevented him from playing for the Red Sox this season. At the plate, he batted second and went 0-for-2 with two walks.

As always, though, the results are less important to the Red Sox than the process. Given the duration of their absences, both Ellsbury and Crawford likely will need to progress through the minor leagues, getting enough at-bats along the way to build their timing at the plate and enough reps to make them comfortable in the field.