Ellsbury to Play Left Field, Cameron in Center in 2010
|01.05.10 at 5:03 pm ET|
Red Sox manager Terry Francona confirmed that Jacoby Ellsbury will play left field for the Red Sox in 2010 and two-time Gold Glove winner Mike Cameron will play centerfield. The news was first reported by The Providence Journal.
Cameron has played only centerfield since the 2005 season, when he and Mets centerfielder Carlos Beltran had a frightful collision while Cameron — who signed a two-year, $15.5 million deal with the Sox earlier this offseason — was in right field. Cameron made clear that he was more than happy to play any outfield position for the Red Sox, but Francona, in concert with bench coach DeMarlo Hale and G.M. Theo Epstein, decided that having Ellsbury in left, Cameron in center and J.D. Drew in right made for the optimal defensive team.
“With [Cameron's] long strides and him being a centerfielder, and Jacoby’s first-step quickness, I think this sets us up better where we can get, I think the word is, dynamic out in the outfield,” said Francona. “I can’t tell you how many times Carl Crawford’s come across in left field and taken away a hit and I’ve thought, ‘Damn.’ Any time you have the ability to put a centerfielder in left field, you’re going to be better. That’s what we’re doing.”
Ellsbury played the corner outfield positions for the Sox at times in 2007 and 2008, in place of Manny Ramirez. In those instances, when paired with Coco Crisp and Drew, he helped the Sox to have tremendous outfield coverage. The Sox, clearly, are hoping that he might have a similar impact in 2010.
“It came down to the fact that Cameron’s experience is almost exclusively in center and Jacoby demonstrated in 2007 and 2008 that he can be an impact corner outfielder defensively,” Epstein said via email. “We are more than comfortable with Jacoby in center. We just feel that — for now — this alignment puts us in the best position to win games. Both Mike and Jacoby were great about it and said they would do whatever was best for the team. Jacoby knows he’ll still be a centerfielder in the long run, and Mike looks forward to helping Jacoby any way he can.”
The idea of developing Ellsbury as a centerfielder will no doubt be more challenging, particularly the reads of the ball off the bat. Nonetheless, the Sox are hopeful that he will continue to improve at the position. If that happens, then in the long run, it is possible that at some point during Cameron’s time in Boston, the Sox could revisit the question of which outfielder is better suited for a corner and which one is superior in center.
Francona and Hale informed Ellsbury and Cameron of the decision by phone just before Christmas.
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