MINNEAPOLIS – In April, Jacoby Ellsbury hit .283 with a .336 on-base percentage, and .416 slugging percentage. But the flip of the calendar has not been kind to him.
In 16 games this month, he's hitting .188, going 13-for-69, with a double, a triple, four runs scored, three RBI, seven walks, and 10 strikeouts, for a .273 on-base percentage, and .232 slugging percentage.
“Still some inconsistencies with the timing,” manager John Farrell replied when asked what he’s been seeing from Ellsbury lately. “And there’s time when he’ll show good patience. He’ll work deep into a count. And then he’ll look maybe in the next at-bat a little over aggressive, trying to make something happen."
In many ways Ellsbury, who opened Saturday’s game against the Twins with a single, is a prototypical lead-off hitter. His speed is well-known and one of his best weapons. He leads the American League with 13 stolen bases and four triples. When he gets on base, just the threat of a steal can work to the Sox advantage.
But, the production that the Red Sox have been getting from him lately is not evidence of that. His overall numbers this season -- .247/.312/.346 – are well off those of his MVP-caliber season of 2011 (.321/.376/.552), and even last season (.271/.313/.370).
“And it comes down to timing, because we’ve seen him where he’s squared up some balls that he gets on base, he’ll create some havoc. But the consistency to which he’s made himself known for is a little elusive right now. And he’s a key part for us. We need him, and we need to work with him to get him going. That’s ongoing every day. But his consistency has a huge effect and a huge impact on who we are offensively.”
Curiously, entering Saturday’s game, Ellsbury is hitting .294/.362/.388 in 19 road games, but just .206/.267/.309 in 23 games at Fenway Park this season. But in the first four games on the current road trip, he is just .133/.316/.133, going 2-for-15 with three walks, getting hit by a pitch, and two strikeouts, a stolen base.
Farrell is not considering dropping Ellsbury down in the order. Not yet, anyway.
“Not at the moment,” Farrell said. “That’s not to say that there are absolutes. Btu what we have to do, we have to get Jacoby going. And I know we’re 175, 180 at-bats into the season already, [Ellsbury had a league-leading 182 at-bats entering Saturday’s game] and there’s been a lot of opportunity. And yet he’s had time, he’s done a good job of getting on base. The month of May has been less than what he has shown he is capable of. But we have to continue to work with him and get him on track.”
Farrell said he has not seen Ellsbury – who can become a free agent after this season – pressing. He had a long conversation with Ellsbury on Friday before the start of the three-game series with the Twins.
“I wouldn’t’ say pressing,” Farrell said. “How do you differentiate between pressing and frustrated? Because it feels like he’s gotten pitches that he hasn’t squared up. He’s just missed them. Part of our long conversation yesterday with him. So, there’s a little frustration there. I wouldn’t say he’s trying to, pressing to the point of something’s ticking on him, time is ticking. No. he’s a good player and we got to get him back to that level.”