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Sports of Boston is continuing its week-long preview of the Red Sox outfield with center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
Today is Truck Day, the unofficial start of spring for Red Sox fans, and certainly a welcome sight for the Red Sox embattled center fielder. After missing most of the 2010 season with a rib injury, Ellsbury is looking for a bounce back year.
After 2008 and 2009 seasons that saw Ellsbury hit .280/.336/.394 and .301/.355/.415 with 50 and 70 stolen bases, anticipation for his 2010 was tremendous. What’s more, people doubted Theo Epstein’s acquisition of Mike Cameron and the transition of Ellsbury to left field. Cameron of course missed quite a bit of time himself make the debate over which position Ellsbury should play somewhat meaningless.
If Ellsbury has recovered, he and Carl Crawford at the top of the lineup could be the base running/defensive equivalent of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. The Bill James projection for Ellsbury is .300/.355/.409 – essentially what he did back in 2009.
Like troublesome oblique injuries, a rib strain like Ellsbury had makes swinging a bat difficult. However, his legs remained intact, so regardless of what the Red Sox’s internal defensive metrics make of Ellsbury’s play, he still has the speed, if not the instincts yet to handle center field. And Mike Cameron is still around to provide that guidance like only a veteran can.