|Scott Boras on Jacoby Ellsbury: ‘We’re seeing what we expected’||07.11.11 at 4:48 pm ET|
PHOENIX — Entering the 2011 season, Jacoby Ellsbury appeared to represent something of a question mark rather than a certainty. Coming off a 2010 season in which he missed nearly 90 percent of the year while recovering from five rib fractures, it was natural to wonder whether Ellsbury would return to his pre-injury form in 2011.
But his agent, Scott Boras, had no such doubts. While the physical trauma of the rib injuries was enough to wipe out his 2010 season, Boras had no concerns that his client would struggle to make up for lost time in 2011.
“Obviously when athletes go through injuries, this was not the type of injury that there would be a high risk of skill diminution. Because of that, we weren’t really concerned about him returning to who he was as a player,” said Boras. “The kind of rehab you have to go through is sometimes a very difficult path when you have an athlete who is a quick-twitch athlete, a lot of striding muscle. He has to take a very extensive approach to get that done.
“He did that,” Boras added. “We’re glad he’s healthy and we’re seeing what we expected to see from Jacoby.”
Ellsbury has returned not just to his excellent form of 2008-09 but has instead seen his game flourish. He has been a dynamic, multi-dimensional player who has impacted the game as a hitter — assembling a .316 average, .377 OBP, .490 slugging mark and .867 OPS along with a career high 11 homers — on the bases (he is leading the AL with 28 steals) and in the field, where he has covered tremendous ground in centerfield.
At a time when Carl Crawford received a seven-year, $142 million deal from the Sox, and when Mets shortstop Jose Reyes is being eyed as one of the top players who will be on the market this coming winter due to their relative youth and diverse skill sets, Boras suggests that Ellsbury should be viewed as a similarly rare talent.
“When you can steal 50-plus bases, hit for power and play a premium defensive position, there are few men who can do that. As a matter of fact, you’re talking one hand,” said Boras. “Those are hard positions to hold down. They’re hard metrics to achieve. Your skill set to play centerfield and steal bases obviously generates itself around speed. So, to go beyond and add an offensive power to that is hard to do. It’s a rare skill set.”
For his part, Ellsbury suggests that he prides himself on precisely that — being a well-rounded player who can impact the game in any number of ways. During offseasons at Athletes’ Performance, he trains to develop both his speed and power in order to ensure that he maximizes his skills.
Asked whether speed or power is more fun to watch, Ellsbury broke into a smile.
“I would take both. I’ll take both — have the combination, be a complete player,” he said, noting that he grew up idolizing Ken Griffey Jr. when he was a Mariners star, in no small part because of Griffey’s well-rounded game. “They’re both impressive. Speed may be something you can see each at-bat, each game. They say that speed doesn’t slump. … And obviously people are coming out to see the Home Run Derby.”
“You just want to be a complete player. That’s at least what I strive to be — a complete player. You don’t want to be known as a speed player or defense player. You want to have that whole package. That’s only going to make your team better as well. In the offseason, that’s where you can progress in all of those skills and make yourself better.”
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