It was great to welcome Jacoby Ellsbury back to McCoy on Monday, as he began his rehab with the PawSox. Just one game before heading north to join Portland, since the PawSox are heading south to Norfolk and Durham. “Ells” and I sat down before his 1-3 afternoon, that included a walk, 2 runs and an rbi.
How are you feeling?
Feeling better. The biggest thing is it feels good being back in the lineup, and get back playing. I’m excited for it.
It was 2007 when you starred here in Pawtucket. Does everything since then seem like a whirlwind?
It does. Everything happened quickly. It’s been fun, especially winning that World Series. It’s good to be back here, seeing familiar faces, like yourself. I am excited to be here for today.
Going back to the ’07 World Series, not only did you star in it and win it, but how much did it help your confidence, moving forward?
The confidence just snowballs when you succeed at the highest level, it grows and you grow as a player. It helps you to be strong.
Despite all your accomplishments already, you’re still just 26. What did it mean to you to break Tommy Harpers’ single season stolen base mark of 54 set in 1973, at such an early stage of your career?
I still talk to Tommy. He’s always at the ballpark. It was neat. Such a storied franchise, for all the great players that have come in that locker room, to have any kind of record in that clubhouse is pretty special. I think it was neat that Tommy could be there, to mentor me and show me what’s going on a little bit.
You’ve already got that mark. What goal do you set for yourself this year?
For one, be consistent, stay healthy and get on base and steal at a high success rate. With the guys that are hitting behind me in the order, it’s important. It’s been fun. I enjoy getting on base and causing havoc, making things happen. It’s part of my game. I enjoy it.
Everyone seems willing to concede that you are the fastest guy around. There was one exception. Clay Buchholz claimed that if you two raced, he’d win. Has he come around yet?
I hope so (followed by laughter). That race he talks about never happened, but it makes for a good story for “Buch”. I thought it was pretty funny.
People tend to focus on te speed, but you are a career .297 hitter. My contention is the reason the Red Sox have struggled is because you’re not there at the top of the order to put pressure on the opposition.
When I go up there, my main thing is to be a hard out. cause havoc, put the ball in play, hit the ball hard. I feel I can bring a lot to a lineup. That’s why I’ve been itching to get back out there. Today’s a big step to get back in the lineup. It feels like it’s been a long time.
When the Red Sox acquired Mike Cameron, Terry Francona said he made sure to talk to you about moving from center to left, so you you wouldn’t feel it was a demotion. How have you adjusted to playing outside your natural habitat?
I think centerfield is always going to be my natural position. I’ve played there my whole life. When I came up in ’07, I played a lot of left. I felt comfortable starting the season there. I only got 6 games in (before getting hurt). When Cam gets a day off, I’ll play center. I think the adjustment has gone pretty well.
Initially, after your collision with Adrian Beltre, you weren’t put on the DL. Were you surprised at the severity of your injury?
At first, they diagnosed that it was just a bruise. A couple of days went by and it felt the same, so I asked for an MRI. It revealed four broken bones. I think if we had found it a little sooner, I’d have been back a little sooner. It takes time to heal and time was all I had. I’ve been staying in shape. Taking BP, running- doing whatever I needed to do so that when I get back out there, I’m ready to go.
How long before you think youi’ll be ready to rejoin Boston?
Hopefully, soon. Go out there and feel pretty good. The biggest thing is playing defense, running, just getting over that couple of days of soreness. I’m hoping to be back up there as soon as possible.