Ellsbury hasn't got time for the pain

191542.jpg

Ellsbury hasn't got time for the pain

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It's early yet, but a common theme has definitely emerged in the first week of spring training: Don't look back.

John Lackey sounded it first. Then, Josh Beckett. And Wednesday morning, within an hour of checking into Red Sox training camp, Jacoby Ellsbury did, too.

It was only natural, of course, that the outfielder's lost -- and at times, controversial -- 2010 would be asked about. Ellsbury missed all but 17 games with a number of broken ribs, and teammates grumbled privately about his extended absence. And in one notable case, Kevin Youkilis publicly questioned Ellsbury's dedication to rehab the injury in Arizona rather than with the team.

Ellsbury was far from nostalgic about last season. In fact, perhaps predicitably, he did everything he could to avoid talk of the injury and the surrounding white noise it set off.

Asked about his health and when he got cleared to resume full offseason baseball activity, Ellsbury was vague with his responses, saying he "wasn't even sure of the exact date, but it's been a while now."

"It feels good to put 2010 behind me," he said, "and look forward to 2011."

Asked how frustrating the season was, Ellsbury had a ready response: "I've already put that behind me. I can't really change last year. But I'm definitely excited for 2011."

When asked when he was finally fully pain-free -- in his ribs and in his back -- Ellsbury was, again, somewhat evasive.

"I'm not sure exactly," he said. "All I know is that I feel good now . . . It's hard to say. But I've been healthy for a while now."

Ellsbury was asked about some of the criticism he received -- in the media and from others.

"I've put that in the past," he said. "Like I said, I'm moving forward and I'm excited about 2011."

Was the criticism unfair?

"Moving on . . . moving on," said Ellsbury with a smile. "You know, 2011."

And finally, he was asked if he felt some a connection with Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who was roundly criticized for not being tough enough after coming out of a playoff game with a knee injury.

"No real comments on that, either," he said. "I'm going to sound like a broken recorder."

He professed to be unconcerned about where he would hit in the batting order -- "That's up to Tito. I just want to help the team, wherever I fall in that order."

Ellsbury revealed that during the offseason he worked on "a lot of core stability and letting the ribs heal."

Recounting his 2010 season and what he learned from the experience, Ellsbury said: "I definitely grew. But I'm definitely not looking at the past. I can't change anything that happened. I'm definitely excited for 2011. Every spring training is a fresh start for everybody."

After playing just 17 games since October of 2009, Ellsbury will have to adjust to the rhythms of the game again. But he's confident that won't take long.

"The way I play," he said, "and being an athlete, you can transition back into it fairly quick. I'll definitely be 100 percent by Opening Day."

A big test will come the first time Ellsbury, in-game, finds himself sliding head-first into a base or laying out for a ball in the outfield.

"I'll be able play with my natural aggressiveness," he vowed, "the way I've always played. I'm not worried at all. It's not like I'm coming off major surgery. If anything, they should be stronger than they were. Any time you break something and let it heal, it should be stronger."

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Drellich: Why David Ortiz should hang around the Red Sox more often

Drellich: Why David Ortiz should hang around the Red Sox more often

BOSTON — David Ortiz should stop by Fenway Park more often. 

There may be no tangible gain for his old teammates. At this point, it defies logic to think there’d be tangible harm.

On Thursday evening before Ortiz’s charity roast at House of Blues, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy recalled how it was a no-brainer to plan Friday’s jersey retirement so soon after Ortiz’s exit from the game. 

Kennedy said he was the one who actually broached the question with team management last year. Basically, everyone looked at him sideways because of the implication any other time but right away made sense.

“No person has meant more to the [John] Henry-[Larry] Lucchino-[Tom] Werner era than David Ortiz,” Kennedy said.

Let’s accept the premise wholly: that because Ortiz is so special, the timing for his ceremony deserved to be just as unique. The design of the day was centered on how much Ortiz means to people: fans, the team.

Why, then, has Ortiz been staying away from the ballclub? Dustin Pedroia has been a leader for years. Ortiz is a positive influence. The idea that having Big Papi swing by Fenway sometimes would actively stunt the development of the Red Sox’ identity is a stretch. 

There’s been a grace period of nearly three months. 

“Well I, I could never entirely walk away. I have been around,” Ortiz said Friday night in a press conference. “I have been watching the games and I have been in touch with my teammates. I have been in touch with the organization. You know, I just don’t like to, you know, be in the way of anything. 

“I know that, me retiring, it was going to have a big impact on what we do around here. So I don’t — I tell myself, give everybody their space and I don’t want to, now that I’m not playing, I don’t want to be a distraction. And I know that coming to the field sometimes, it can cause a distraction or something, so. I have been able to keep my distance so I’m not in nobody’s way. But I stay in touch with everybody and I have been pretty busy also, doing a lot of things. 

“But me and the organization, we’ve been talking for a while about me working with the organization. Probably Sam Kennedy can give you guys more info about it. But it’s going to happen, and at some point I’m going to be able to help out somewhere, somehow some way.”

It’d be ridiculous to say Ortiz is the reason Rick Porcello pitched well and Hanley Ramirez homered Friday. It’d be a flat-out lie.

But Ortiz’s presence shouldn’t somehow be a distraction, if leadership and the mentality in the Red Sox clubhouse is as the Red Sox describe it.

"Pedey has been a leader of this team for the entire time he's been here,” manager John Farrell said Friday. “To me, the clubhouse has been a place where guys have felt comfortable. They've been able to come in and be themselves. They have rallied around one another when times have called for that. When you remove an individual, there are going to be other people who step up. I firmly believe that has taken place.”

If that’s the case, then how does what Farrell said in the same pregame press conference yesterday make sense?

“[Ortiz] has a keen awareness that he could potentially keep others from flourishing with the potential thought and the question always being there,” Farrell said. “Well, he is around, is he ever coming back? All the things that I think have been reported on to a certain extent. I think David's keen awareness of himself and how a team works, I wouldn't be surprised if that is at the root of his decision to keep the space that he's done.”

But that decision seems flawed. No one in that room should be hurt or confused by Ortiz coming by occasionally — absolutely not now that the jersey’s hanging. (A little speculation he could un-retire was throwing the Sox off their game? Really?) 

If anything, the team should find comfort in seeing such an important, charismatic man with ties to the group.

Ortiz is special. The team has adapted well without him. If those are facts, the need for Ortiz to stay away doesn’t make sense.

Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

BOSTON - David Ortiz became one of the most celebrated players in Red Sox history during his storied 14-year run in Boston.

On the night he returned to Fenway to have his No. 34 take its place among the franchise's other legends, his former teammates did their part to make sure it was a memorable one.

Hanley Ramirez and Sandy Leon hit two-run homers and the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 9-4 on Friday to cap a night in which Ortiz's number became the latest retired at Fenway Park.

It was the 250th career home run for Ramirez, a good friend of Ortiz who was also born in the Dominican Republic. Leon finished with three hits and four RBIs.

Ramirez said he played with Ortiz on his mind.

"He's my mentor, my big brother. He's everything," Ramirez said. "Today when I saw him on the field crying, it made me cry."

He said his home run was in Big Papi's honor.

"Definitely, definitely, definitely," he said. "I was going to do his thing (pointing his hands in the air) but I forgot."

The homers helped provide a nice cushion for Rick Porcello (4-9), who gave up four runs and struck out eight in 6 1/3 innings to earn the victory. It was the 13th straight start Porcello has gone at least six innings.

"It was vintage Porcello," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "A couple of pitches that cut his night short, but he was crisp throughout."

This could serve as a needed confidence boost for Porcello, who had been 0-4 with a 7.92 ERA in his previous five starts, allowing 47 hits and 27 earned runs.

He had command of his pitches early, holding the Angels scoreless until the fourth, when a catching error by Leon at home allowed Albert Pujols to cross the plate.

Porcello said he isn't sure if he has completely turned a corner yet after his slow start, but he has felt better in his recent starts.

"Today was a step in the right direction," he said.

Alex Meyer (3-4) allowed five runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Los Angeles scored three runs in the seventh, but cooled off after Porcello left.

Boston got out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, scoring on an RBI double by Xander Bogaerts and then getting two more runs off wild pitches by Meyer.

Ramirez gave Porcello a 5-1 lead in the fourth with his two-run shot to right field.