By Maureen Mullen
FORT MYERS, Fla. Saturday marked the third consecutive day on which Jacoby Ellsbury has played a game. Its the first time this spring hes played three straight days. Hes not scheduled to make the trip to Bradenton to play the Pirates on Sunday, but he may want to lobby manager Terry Francona to let him jump on the bus.
In his last two games hes gone a combined 5-for-6 at the plate, with three runs scored, three RBI, two doubles and his first home run of the spring.
I think he looks tremendous, said Francona. He looks real good. Sometimes that comes and goes in spring because of the sporadic play. But especially the last couple days, hes really looked good.
He hit that home run. That was a pretty swing. That ball jumped out in a hurry. So, I think its pretty safe to say he feels pretty good about himself at the plate.
Ellsbury opened Saturdays game against the Marlins at City of Palms, a 9-2 Sox win, with a double to right, scoring on Dustin Pedroias single.
After missing all but 18 games last season with fractured ribs, Ellsbury is just happy to be feeling healthy.
I felt good, day one, coming in to spring training, he said. So its nice to get out there and play.
He said he has no reservations about his health.
That was the plan when I came to spring training, to not have any, not think about it, he said. And thats where Im at right now.
Hes also growing into the role of being the leader of the outfield, directing his corner outfielders. Its a role hes had to grow into over the last few years, as a young center fielder with veterans J.D. Drew, Manny Ramirez, Jason Bay to his sides.
Ive always been comfortable out there playing center, but yeah, maybe, Ive been there a little bit longer and just communicating with the guys, which I did in the past but maybe just being a little bit more vocal, he said.
Look at the guys I had beside me, some pretty good names in there. So a lot of times you kind of let them, theyve been there, they know what theyre doing. But its nice to just get in and play center and communicating with everybody. We did that in the past but I think its just a little bit more noticeable now.
Its a role Francona has encouraged him to take on more.
We want our center fielder to run the show out there, Francona said. Everybody has to move off of him. If hes moving and nobody else is, were covering stuff we shouldnt. So, yeah, we really encouraged him to take charge out there.
And as he demonstrated Saturday scoring each time he got on base his role at the top of the lineup is just as vital.
We missed him a ton last season, Pedroia said. He brings a ton of speed to our team. He can create a run without getting a hit. He could get on with an error and steal two bases and a sac fly. He could do a ton to help us win. Plays great center field. So hes huge for our team.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen