Confident Ellsbury continues to punish pitchers

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Confident Ellsbury continues to punish pitchers

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON Before Saturday afternoons game against the Yankees at Fenway Park, Red Sox manager Terry Francona was asked about Jacoby Ellsburys power this season. A fair question considering the numbers Ellsbury has put up: a career high 18 home runs and .515 slugging percentage entering the game.

The look of distaste on Francona's face, though, said he would have preferred just about any other question.

I try to stay away from the power stuff with Ells, Francona said. Hes a strong kid, kind of wiry. But what we really care about is getting on base and kind of igniting our team. The home runs, theyre kind of a by-product of taking a lot of good swings. We dont want him to change.

Unfortunately for Francona, any more displays by Ellsbury like the one he put on against the Yankees Saturday afternoon and the manager will be answering a lot more similar questions.

Ellsbury went 2-for-4, with a three-run homer, a sacrifice fly, and a two-run double, giving him a career-high six RBI, three more than his previous high, leading the Sox to a 10-4 win and giving his team a share of first place in the American League East with the Yankees.

The six RBI are the most by a Sox leadoff hitter since Ellis Burks drove in seven runs on June 10, 1987, at Baltimore. They are the most by a Sox batter since Adrian Beltres six RBI on May 26, 2010, at Tampa Bay. The last Sox center fielder with six or more RBI in a game was Carl Everett, with six on Aug. 29, 2000, at Tampa Bay.

Ellsbury, who had a walk-off home run on Wednesday and a walk-off single on Tuesday against Cleveland, now has 19 homers this season more than No. 3 hitter Adrian Gonzalez (18).

Jacobys been a great hitter all year long and just showing that hes one of the best in the game at the lead-off spot and hes doing great things, Gonzalez said.

Ellsburys fourth-inning, two-out, three-run shot to right field came off lefty CC Sabathia just the second home run by a left-handed hitter this season off the Yankees ace.

CCs so good, I was trying to get anything to hit out over the plate and put a good swing on, Ellsbury said. Fortunately enough today we put some good swings on him.

Ellsbury, who had a third-inning sacrifice fly off Sabathia and an eighth-inning two-run single off Hector Noesi, is batting .381 (16-for-42) with five doubles, two home runs, and 13 RBI off Yankee pitching in 11 games this season.

Ellsbury is now hitting .321 with a .522 slugging percentage and .377 on-base percentage. After the game, Francona couldnt help but talk about Ellsburys power.

That was a tremendous day, Francona said. The home run, we got two outs and two on in the inning and he hits a three-run homer and spreads it out. Against a guy like CC thats pretty impressive. Then they have to play the infield in because of the score of the game and he hits the ball up the middle.

Seems like were kind of talking about him a lot. The reason is because hes doing so many good things.

After missing all but 18 games last season because of fractured ribs, Francona was unsure what he would be getting from Ellsbury this season.

Young developing players, that was our biggest concern, Francona said. He looked healthy. He looked certainly like he had a point to prove. But saying that, hitting .320 or .330 with a lot of RBIs is a difference. And hes been tremendous and you can tell hes confident.

Ellsbury, who was the target of pointed criticism last season, has maintained all year he is not trying to make a point. Whether he is trying to or not, the point is being made.

I just try to go out each and every day, have fun, he said. Were winning ball games. Its been fun playing with the guys in the clubhouse . . . It was an important game and hopefully Sunday we can win the series.

In this league you try to be as consistent as you can be and thats what I try to do. Tomorrows a new day and I know I got to go out there and try to help the team win.

Which is something he missed being able to do last year.

You want to be out there playing, he said. You want to help the team win. Thats what its all about is going out there competing with the guys and winning ball games.

It didnt matter who they were playing, you just want to be out there playing, no matter if it was a spring training game or what it is. You just want to be out there playing. Its the competition when youre out that you miss.

Whether or not hes making up for lost time, Ellsbury has made his presence known this season.

I believe in my abilities and I know what Im capable of doing, he said. I knew once the offseason hit I knew I would be ready for spring training and ready to go.

Ive always been a confident person. I just had time last year to kind of watch ballgames and learn from watching. Sometimes when youre playing you dont have that opportunity. So take advantage of when I was out and put it to my advantage.

And to the disadvantage of American League pitchers.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.

Chris Sale on leaving White Sox: 'Time for both sides to do something different, I guess'

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Chris Sale on leaving White Sox: 'Time for both sides to do something different, I guess'

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- While there’s a deal of anticipation going into Spring training with the four Killer B’s, David Price and Pablo Sandoval’s shot at redemption and Rick Porcello looking to be something similar to his 2016 self, there’s one name that trumps them all.

Chris Sale.

The lankly lefty received an ovation from fans at the Friday night Town Hall, kicking off Red Sox Winter Weekend. With his consistent success, there’s reason to be excited.

But there’s also reason for apprehension given the way Sale’s departure from Chicago was depicted. But he’s made sure to clear the air.

“I wouldn’t say . . . ya know . . . I loved my time in Chicago,” Sale said when asked if it was time to leave the Windy City. “My best baseball memories are there [and] will be there forever. I love the city; I love the people in the organization.

“It was time for both sides to do something different, I guess. I talked to (White Sox Senior V.P.) Rick on the phone, I talked to (White Sox pitching coach Don) Coop (Cooper). We’re all cool, it’s fine. We understand where both of us are, it happens in baseball, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Chicago.”

He didn’t seem irritated discussing the issue, and certainly wasn’t timid -- we all know that’s not in his DNA.

He genuinely seems excited to deal with the large sum of Sox fans and to call a new place home -- in a city his wife’s fond of no less.

But ultimately, he’s focused on winning, nothing else.

“Every time I’m out there it’s gonna be all I got,” Sale said. "Every time, no matter what. Can promise you that.”

Kennedy in pursuit of Drake for concert at Fenway

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Kennedy in pursuit of Drake for concert at Fenway

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- Quick, if you could have one artist perform at Fenway Park, who would it be?

Florida Georgia Line or Carrie Underwood?

Kanye West?

Maybe a little throwback with Eminem?

Let’s stick to artists who go by one name actually. Red Sox President Sam Kennedy seems to think that’s a good idea.

“We’ve been approaching Drake, this year, we would love to have Drake come,” Kennedy said at Red Sox Winter Weekend. “We understand he’s not doing a big summer tour, but that’s an example of someone we’ve proactively gone out after.

“We’d love to have him come to Fenway Park, given his popularity.

Fenway will already play host to New Kids on the Block with Paula Abdul and Boysz II Men, James Taylor and Billy Joel, with the possibility of adding more.

“I’m not a huge music person,” Kennedy said. “We’ve tried to bring in as many different types of acts as we can to appeal to different demographics. The reality is with the baseball schedule, with the way it lays out, we’re sort of at the mercy of the touring and who’s out.

“We love having these events in Boston. It’s good for the economy, it’s good for Fenway . . . The city has been a very supportive partner in bringing events into town.”

From what Kennedy and his staff have gathered, it appears Drake is looking to do one-off shows instead of a tour. That’s just enough for the ever-persistent Red Sox President to keep working on bringing in the superstar.

“We’re not gonna give up,” Kennedy said.