Bronx, NY- Eight days after the New York Yankees introduced the first free agent they signed this offseason, Brian McCann, the team’s major officials were back at Yankee Stadium to introduce to the public and the press their highest priced of this year’s free agents, Jacoby Ellsbury.
Jacoby Ellsbury and his wife, Kelsey, joined Ellsbury’s agent, Scott Boras, and Yankees brass, Managing General Partner Hall Steinbrenner, President Randy Levine, Chief Operating Officer Lonn Trost, General Manager Brian Cashman, Assistant General Manager Jean Afterman, and Manager Joe Girardi, on the dais for the brief televised meeting with reporters.
The new Yankee posed for photographers with a Yankee cap and #22 jersey. His #2 is worn by Yankee captain Derek Jeter, Ellsbury laughingly said he hasn’t asked and did not plan to ask Jeter for the number. Interestingly, #22 was worn by the recently departed Yankee second baseman Robinson Cano and Roger Clemens. Cano is now to wear #22 with the Mariners.
As was to be expected no negative words were spoken at the formal conference. Cashman stated, “He’s a dynamic player, someone who can make a difference on the offensive and defensive side.”
Girardi made the same point in different words, “He can make an impact on both sides of the ball.”
The center fielder was impressed by the eagerness the Yankees showed in trying to sign him, “They showed they really wanted me. Everything moved very fast from the get-go.”
He did not use the occasion, unlike Cano at his press conference in Seattle, to condemn his former team for not making a greater effort to re-sign him, I know the rivalry. Obviously, it’s going to be fun when I go back to Boston. Those relationships [with former teammates on the Red Sox] I’ll have for the rest of my life regardless of what uniform I wear. It was seven great years. Now, I’m looking forward to the next 7-8 years.”
On the day of the conference, Ellsbury took a full-page ad in “The Boston Globe” to thank the fans in Boston for their support.
Specific information regarding Ellsbury was not discussed at the conference. He was born in Oregon on September 11, 1983. He is a Native American of Navajo descent on his mother’s side. He was drafted by the Rays in the 23rd round in 2002, but declined to sign. After three years at Oregon State University, he was again drafted but as the 23rd pick in the 1st round by the Boston Red Sox.
He first played in the majors in 2007, but in his first full campaign in 2008 was voted 3rd in the Rookie of the Year ballot. He has compiled a lifetime batting average of .297 in his seven years with the Red Sox. The fleet footed outfielder led the American League in stolen bases three times including 2013 with 52.
Ellsbury has been injury prone, missing 264 games during the last four years. Steinbrenner responded to this criticism after the conference, “A lot of his injuries …are freakish, running into walls, running into players and people falling on top of him. I’d be more concerned if it was a serious shoulder issue that was chronic. I think he’ll be fine.”
One of Ellsbury’s strengths is his experience and success in the post-season. He has played on two world championship clubs and batted .301 in 38 post-season contests.
Ellsbury had a career year in 2011 when he smacked 32 homers and won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger. Whether that season was a fluke or he can reach that level of play remains to be seen. The spotlight in the Bronx will be on him starting in early April.
This article also appears on NewYorkSportsExaminer.com.