NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Jacoby Ellsbury is about to experience the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry from a whole new perspective.
The outfielder signed a seven-year, $153 million contract with New York this offseason, fresh off his second World Series title with Boston. He’ll face his former team for the first time Thursday night when the Red Sox invade Yankee Stadium for the opener of a four-game series.
“I think it’ll be interesting for him,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “My thought process is that it’ll be a little bit more interesting when we go there. He’ll have a lot more people that are happy that he’s here than maybe when we go there.”
Ellsbury batted .297 and stole 241 bases in his seven years with the Red Sox, who drafted him with the 23rd overall pick in 2005. He joined a long list of former Boston stars — Babe Ruth, Roger Clemens and Johnny Damon to name a few — when he switched sides in the AL East’s fiercest rivalry.
“It was seven great years,” Ellsbury said. “The guys in the clubhouse, those are relationships that I’ll have for the rest of my life regardless of what uniform I’m in or the uniform they’re in.”
The 30-year-old has gotten off to a fast start, batting .364 with three doubles, two RBIs and four stolen bases in his first nine games.
“Obviously the biggest thing is keeping him off the base,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “He can create a lot of havoc. It was fun to see him in your own uniform. As dynamic a player as he can be, he’s going to benefit from the dimensions in that ballpark. But I think we’ve got a pretty clear understanding of where his strengths are and how we execute to that will be the key for us just trying to control him.”
Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz (0-0, 12.46 ERA) will be tasked with slowing down Ellsbury — and the rest of the Yankees lineup. Buchholz dominated New York last season, going 3-0 and allowing just one earned run in 18 innings against the Bombers.
The Yankees, losers of two straight games, will counter with Michael Pineda (0-1, 1.50) in his long-awaited Bronx debut. Last week, Pineda made his first start since 2011, when he was a member of the Seattle Mariners.
But until first pitch, all the talk will be about Ellsbury.
“I guess I’m looking forward to it, but you’ve got to treat each game, prepare, do everything like it’s a big game,” he said. “That’s how I’m going to go about it.”
Both teams are off to a 4-5 start.
“It will be a little bit interesting for the core guys who have seen him in a Red Sox uniform their whole life,” Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes said. “I think there’s a lot more stories in between the lines than that one. It will be a good series.”
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