After only appearing in 18 games last year, Jacoby Ellsbury is putting the 2010 season in the rear view mirror. He is looking towards the 2011 season with optimism, hoping to reestablish himself as one of the most electrifying players in the American League.
Ellsbury missed most of the 2010 campaign with cracked and broken ribs. Whether Ellsbury was being a little soft, not wanting to play through the injury, or that the Sox training staff just botched the diagnosis, will never be clear. However, one thing that is clear: a healthy Jacoby Ellsbury coupled with newly acquired speed demon, Carl Crawford, will give opposing pitchers and catchers migraines throughout the season.
Ellsbury sat down with reporters and explained that, for him, this off-season afforded no down time. “I’m excited, that’s why I started right away. There was no off time for me.” Said the Sox centerfielder, “I just had to get back in the gym, and get back to working out.” Ellsbury maintained the notion that he is back to 100%, and that there is no hesitation in his swing or in any other baseball related activities.
Last year, Jacoby Ellsbury took a lot of flack from the media and even some teammates (Kevin Youkilis) for sitting out as long as he did, and rehabbing away from the team during the season at API (Athletes’ Performance Institute) in Arizona. But prior to last season, Ellsbury had not shown signs of being ‘soft,’ playing in 145 and 153 games in his first two seasons in the big leagues. The Sox speedster also led the AL in stolen bases in 2008 and 2009 with 50 and 70 swipes respectively.
It’s a pity that the young Ellsbury lost an entire season to injury, but, like Ellsbury, Sox fans shouldn’t dwell on the past; but rather look towards the bright future. It is still unclear where Red Sox manager, Terry Francona, will bat Ellsbury and Crawford; but just imagine the fits they will cause on the base paths this year. Since 2003, only one player (Chone Figgins) not named Ellsbury or Crawford has led or been tied for the lead in the AL in stolen bases. Assuming Ellsbury and Crawford both stay healthy; the two should combine for over 100 stolen bases without batting an eyelash.
And we can’t forget Red Sox general manager, Theo Epstine’s, theory of “run prevention.” With the speed of Ellsbury in center, Crawford in left and an above average defender with Drew in right, there aren’t a lot places for the ball to land, but in someone’s glove.
It is fine to reserve your opinion on Ellsbury until the season is a couple of months under way. But keep in mind, that last season, no Red Sox outfielder stole more than 10 bases, had a batting average over .270, knocked in 70 runs, or scored more than 70 runs. If Jacoby Ellsbury truly is 100% healthy along with Carl Crawford, they should completely blow those numbers out of the water.
This story was originally posted on SportHazeBoston