For the first time in his major league career, Jacoby Ellsbury will hit third in the Red Sox lineup Tuesday, a move that manager Bobby Valentine hoped would get the outfielder going at the plate.
Since returning after missing three months with an early season shoulder separation, Ellsbury has had little impact. He's hitting just .261 since coming back in the first game of the second half of the season.
Ellsbury has just one homer and 11 RBI this season.
"Just talking to the coaching staff,'' said Valentine, "they feel like, in the past, sometimes he's been moved out of the leadoff spot and he's gotten a little more aggressive. I took the head of that, to see if we can get him a little more aggressive.''
Valentine thinks Ellsbury is close to getting locked in at the plate, but currently seems caught in-between -- in other words, out front on breaking balls and a little late on fastballs.
"I'm not sure I can make a fair evaluation in a comparitive way,'' said Valentine, having not seen as much of Ellsbury in the past. "Just watching him come back, he's just mis-hit a lot of balls. The fastball that's up and away that he takes a really good swing at, ends up behind home plate.
"The breaking ball that seems like he's right on has been a ground ball to second or first. For me, in the simplest form, means just he's (a fraction) out in front of the breaking ball and (a fraction) behind the fastball. But maybe it's more than that. I can't make the comparison. They look like really good full swings -- and they're going to right side of the infield. And really good full swings (on fastballs) and the balls are going straight back.''