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Jacoby Ellsbury gets much warmer reception than Johnny Damon in his return: ‘The fans were great’ 04.23.14 at 12:06 am ET
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Jacoby Ellsbury tipped his cap to Red Sox fans and the organization Tuesday night. (AP)

Jacoby Ellsbury tipped his cap to Red Sox fans and the organization Tuesday night. (AP)

Johnny Damon had warned Jacoby Ellsbury before the game Tuesday that he would find out just how vicious Red Sox fans could be for leaving Boston for the Yankees.

After all, when Damon signed with the Bronx Bombers prior to the 2006 season, he was roundly booed and excoriated every time he set foot inside Fenway Park. It didn’t stop when he left after winning a World Series in 2009 and played for Detroit, Tampa Bay and Cleveland.

But Ellsbury is no Johnny Damon. For whatever reason, Ellsbury was booed on Tuesday but no where near as fiercely as Damon when the original “Idiot” returned in 2006 for the first time.

[Click here to hear Jacoby Ellsbury rave about his return to Fenway Park Tuesday night.]

As a matter of fact, Ellsbury thought the Red Sox fans showed great restraint and respect. True, it’s a lot easier to say that when you triple to open the game, making a diving catch in the bottom of the first and knock out the opposing pitcher Jon Lester with a two-run double in the fifth, all part of a 9-3 Yankees cakewalk Tuesday night at Friendly Fenway.

“Anytime a win is a good game,” Ellsbury said. “I’m happy I could go out there and help the team win tonight. I thought the fans were great. I thought the reception was nice. The tribute the Red Sox gave on the video board [was] unexpected, and I thought it was very classy of them to do that.

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury, Johnny Damon, MLB
Jacoby Ellsbury gets mixed reception then delivers a reminder to Fenway fans 04.22.14 at 8:06 pm ET
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That didn’t take long.

Jacoby Ellsbury returned to Fenway Park for the first time since signing a seven-year, $153 million deal with the Yankees and received a mixture of boos and cheers in the lineup introductions about 15 minutes before first pitch.

He received more boos as he was announced as the first batter of the game.

Then Ellsbury, as was often the case in his time in Boston, quietly showed off his multiple talents as a way of exacting revenge.

In the first at-bat of the game, he drilled a Jon Lester pitch high off the center field wall, so high that a fan wearing a Bruins jersey nearly fell over the 17-foot high barrier and onto the warning track below.

He was awarded a triple on fan interference and scored on a Derek Jeter single to center.

Ellsbury didn’t stop there. Grady Sizemore, brought in to help fill his void at the top of the order, led off the first for the Red Sox. Ellsbury ranged over 30 feet to his right to make a sliding, tumbling grab of a sinking liner for the first out. The play would be significant as Dustin Pedroia followed with a double to left field.

Before the top of the second, the Red Sox paid tribute to Ellsbury with a montage of his days in Boston, featuring highlights in the field from 2013, capped by his appearance on the Duck Boats in Rolling Rally after the World Series win last October. The montage was produced with Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run” playing underneath.

For good measure, Ellsbury knocked old friend Jon Lester out of the game in the fifth when he drilled Lester’s 118th pitch to left-center for a two-run double, making it 7-2 Yankees.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury, MLB, New York Yankees
Jacoby Ellsbury ready for return to Fenway Park: ‘I’m excited for the second part of my career’ at 6:33 pm ET
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After nine years, seven big league seasons and two championships with the Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury is back at Fenway Park as a New York Yankee for the first time on Tuesday night.

Ellsbury signed a seven-year, $153 million pact with the Yankees over the offseason, while the Red Sox chose to go in a different direction. Ellsbury, in a pregame session with the media, said that his time with the Red Sox ultimately influenced his decision to sign with the Yankees, in an indirect way.

“œWhen you get a taste of winning and you experience that…I was fortunate to experience that in ‘€˜07, you always want to get back there, and when the Yankees let me know that they were interested, I was excited because of the opportunity to win again and to play on a team that is committed to fielding a team each and every year that has potential to win.”€ Ellsbury said. “€œNew York was right there…first-class. I think of the championships, I think of the history, I think of the passion that they have for the game…a lot of the same things the Red Sox have, but they gave me the opportunity to play seven more years in the big leagues. I’€™m very blessed that they gave me the opportunity to play the game I love, and I’€™m excited for that.”

Yet just because he has changed sides in the rivalry, Ellsbury is not severing his connection to his experience in Boston. The 30-year-old spoke repeatedly of his appreciation for the seven years he spent in the big leagues in Boston and his nine years in the Red Sox organization after he was taken in the first round of the 2005 draft. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jacoby Ellsbury,
Red Sox notes: John Farrell explains switch for Grady Sizemore 04.10.14 at 7:37 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

NEW YORK — Prior to his team’€™s series-opening game against the Yankees Thursday night, John Farrell explained why Grady Sizemore had been pushed over to left field, with Jackie Bradley Jr. manning center.

Farrell said the move had more to do with the venue then anything else.

“With the ground that’s going to be covered here in Yankee Stadium is almost the reverse of what we deal with at Fenway,” he said. “To keep Jackie in center field and Grady over in left is for that particular reason — to cover the vast space that’s on the left side of the field.”

The manager then added, “As we sat down and talked with Grady about this, well aware that he has defensively only played center field at the big-league level, he’s played a number of games at the minor league level in left field. The alignment being here at Yankee Stadium, that’s what we’re looking to cover.

“It’s an alignment we’ve talked about internally. It’s best fitting here with the ground to cover. Whether or not this is something we do, I’m not going to say on a permanent basis because we’ve shown we’re going to rotate Jonny Gomes through there and he’s going to get ample time in left field as well. This is the way we’re going at it tonight. This isn’t something that we’re looking to pencil in every day going forward.”

Then there was the matter of where Sizemore was hitting in the lineup.

For just the second time this season, the outfielder found himself at the top of the batting order, with Farrell moving Daniel Nava — who had gotten the majority of time at the top of the order against right-handed starters — down to fifth.

“It’s as much trying to get Daniel going,” Farrell said. “We still value the on-base, which Daniel has a strong track record of that, and yet right now we feel like we’ve got to give him an opportunity to get his feet on the ground offensively. Once he does, we feel like he’ll be in that spot. Just trying to make the most of the current streaks or the way guys are swinging the bat right now.”

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Read More: daniel nava, grady sizemore, jackie bradley jr., Jacoby Ellsbury
Red Sox-Yankees series preview at 2:18 pm ET
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The Red Sox will head to New York on the heels of a dramatic victory on Wednesday night, taking on the Yankees and former center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury in a weekend four-game set.

After being swept in their first Fenway series of 2014, the Red Sox were looking for some redemption against the Rangers, and thanks to some solid pitching and dramatics from David Ortiz, they took the rubber game of the set to win their second series of the season.

“It was a big one for our team. Getting swept, coming back in we needed to bounce back and win the series,” said starter Jake Peavy, who delivered 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball. “So I knew coming in that it was a big start, and we needed to find a way to scratch and claw and get a win out of this. Especially going to New york, it’€™s always a fun and intense rivalry, and it’€™s nice to go in there with a little momentum.”

The Red Sox, like much of the rest of the AL East, have stumbled out of the gate a little bit, going 4-5 over their first three series. The big hit, which came from none other than Ortiz on Wednesday, has been elusive for the Red Sox, who have grounded into 17 double plays over just nine games, which stands as the most in the majors (four more than the team with the second most).

After going 85-77 in 2013 and missing the postseason for just the second time in 19 years, the Yankees sought to rebuild their roster and restore their dominance in the AL East during the offseason, which resulted in all kinds of turnover during the winter. The Yankees lost star second baseman Robinson Cano, starting pitcher Phil Hughes and outfielder Curtis Granderson to free agency, saw legendary closer Mariano Rivera and longtime starter Andy Pettitte retire, and had to fill the void left by Alex Rodriguez‘€™s 162-game suspension.

They responded by dishing out $555 million in salaries to the likes of Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Brendan Ryan, Brian Roberts, Matt Thornton, Kelly Johnson, Japanese starter Masahiro Tanaka, and of course, Ellsbury. They also signed outfielder Brett Gardner to a four-year extension, as well as re-signing starter Hiroki Kuroda and face of the franchise, Derek Jeter, who announced that 2014 would be his final season.

But the Yankees already are experiencing some of the same problems that plagued them in 2013. First baseman Mark Teixeira hit the disabled list with a hamstring strain, and new closer David Robertson joined him Monday after suffering a groin strain. The injuries weaken the two biggest question marks for the Yankees: their infield and their bullpen. They’ll be forced to use a combination of relievers to fill the void left by Robertson, and the infield will be spread thinner to compensate for Texeira’s absence.

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Read More: David Ortiz, jackie bradley jr., Jacoby Ellsbury, Yangervis Solarte
Replacing Jacoby Ellsbury in leadoff spot hasn’t been easy for Red Sox at 8:37 am ET
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Daniel Nava

Daniel Nava

The Red Sox have stated the primary goal for their leadoff men is to get on base. Plain and simple. The thinking is that you have to get on base in order score runs.

It just so happened that Jacoby Ellsbury — the guy who used to lead off for the Red Sox and now plays for the Yankees — did both of those things, along with stealing a bunch of bases.

Well, thus far this season, the Red Sox‘ replacements for Ellsbury at the top of the order haven’t gotten on base a whole bunch, have scored just four runs, and haven’t even attempted a stolen base.

Daniel Nava has hit in the top spot a team-high five times, going 3-for-20 with a walk and two runs.

Jonny Gomes has hit in the leadoff spot in three games, managing two hits in nine at-bats with three walks and one run scored.

Grady Sizemore has gotten the chance to lead off once, going 0-for-4 with a walk while scoring a run.

Red Sox leadoff hitters carry the third-worst OPS (.539) in the majors, hitting a combined .176. On the bright side, they are seeing the third-most pitches per plate appearance of any group of leadoff men in the game (4.38).

So, what has Ellsbury meant to his new team? The center fielder has been moved to the third spot in the batting order, with Brett Gardner sliding up. But in his four games leading off, Ellsbury went 6-for-16 (.375) with three walks, three runs and three steals.

Gardner has been almost as good in his five games leading off, hitting .300 (6-for-20) with three walks and two runs while seeing 4.39 pitches per plate appearance.

What to do? Your thoughts …

Who should get the majority of opportunities to leadoff for the Red Sox?

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Read More: Brett Gardner, daniel nava, grady sizemore, Jacoby Ellsbury
Ken Rosenthal on D&C: Sox will have issue if Shane Victorino is banged up 03.31.14 at 9:52 am ET
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Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal

Fox Sports baseball reporter Ken Rosenthal joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to talk about the state of the Red Sox on Opening Day. To listen to the full interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters on Sunday that Shane Victorino was in Boston for an MRI on his right hamstring and will have the leg examined early Monday.

“Obviously Victorino is a huge part of what they did last year, and his performance was probably the big surprise because, remember, that contract was not well received when he signed it,” Rosenthal said. “People thought that he was in decline, including myself.

“He played at an extremely high level, played great defense in right field and obviously was a postseason hero as well. If he is not right, yes, something is wrong, and with [Jackie Bradley Jr.] unproven and Bradley perhaps being no more in his career other than perhaps a fourth outfielder, you’ve got some questions there.

“Now, they’ve got depth with [Mike] Carp and [Daniel] Nava. They can do some things, and that’s one of the things I really like about them, but at the same time, Victorino is a huge part. We saw that last year, and if he’s banged up all year, and he’€™s not right — and he can be like that because he is somewhat older, plays hard and bangs himself up — that’s going to be an issue.”

If Victorino has an injury-plagued season, Boston could feel the loss of former Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury more than the team originally thought.

Jacoby Ellsbury is a really, really good player,” Rosenthal said. “We all know that. Maybe he was a little bit underappreciated. He had the injury controversy that one year and of course as a Scott Boras client, most fans knew he was going to leave and I get that always tempers enthusiasm for a player. At the same time, he was outstanding at his best. When he was hurt, clearly not as outstanding and not the player we all talk about.

“If Victorino in particular is banged up — and this is speculation, right — if he plays 80-100 games instead of 130-140, then you might see people say, ‘If only we had Jacoby,’ but I don’€™t know that people are going to look at it that way. I don’€™t know if the club officials will look at it that way because the reality is it’s not like they were going to pay Jacoby $153 million, everyone knew it was coming, I believe.”

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Read More: Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Ken Rosenthal, Shane Victorino
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