NEW YORK -- If there was any thought that Jacoby Ellsbury might say something controversial as he got ready to face the Red Sox for the first time since becoming a Yankee, Ellsbury made sure to prove otherwise.
Meeting with the media some four hours before the start of the opening game of the series, Ellsbury provided plenty of platitudes and little introspection.
In answer after answer, Ellsbury continued to emphasize that he was "excited'' to be part of the Yankees, fondly recounted his seasons with the Red Sox and did his best to discount any talk of distractions.
"I'm excited to play [against the Red Sox],'' said Ellsbury. "I spent nine years in [the Boston] organization, roughly a third of my life. I left it all on the field for the Red Sox, played as hard as I could. I'm definitely proud of my time over there and the two championships come to mind. But yeah, I'm excited for tonight's game.''
Ellsbury cited "the fans, the great memories, the people I met in Boston,'' when asked to share what he remembered about his time with the Sox.
"It's all positive,'' maintained Ellsbury. "I was definitely blessed to play in that organization.''
He said he heard from some former teammates after the White House ceremony the day after Opening Day, and again after the home opener when the Sox were given their World Series rings. Ellsbury will receive his ring from manager John Farrell and general manager Ben Cherington on Friday.
"They were excited,'' he said of his former teammates. "They told me, 'You were part of this and congratulations.'"
He dodged a question about what sort of reception he expects in Boston in two weeks when the Yanks visit Fenway.
"That's the reason I love this rivalry -- the passion that the fans have,'' said Ellsbury. "I haven't thought about it too much because whatever reception I receive will be out of my hands.''
Nor did Ellsbury seem interested in comparing the similar paths he shares with Johnny Damon -- another former Red Sox center fielder and leadoff hitter, who left Boston for New York after the 2005 season.
"I didn't talk to him when I decided to come here,'' said Ellsbury. "Yeah there are some [comparisons] but I know it's been done before. It's just not Jonny or myself; there's a lot of guys who have left Boston for New York. I felt blessed to be with the Red Sox and I feel blessed to be here.''
Ellsbury noted that he had never before faced Clay Buchholz, the starter on Thursday, even in live batting practice in spring training, but revealed that the two were roommates in Lowell after being drafted in the same year.
"He's one I've built a strong relationship with,'' said Ellsbury. "It will be exciting to face him tonight.''