Ellsbury hasn't got time for the pain

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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

Quotes, notes and stars: Donaldson dominates Kelly

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Quotes, notes and stars: Donaldson dominates Kelly

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 7-5 loss to the Blue Jays:

 

QUOTES

 

* “He had quality stuff, but the story of this one is not being able to contain (Josh) Donaldson. Big night for him . . . I though Joe had quality stuff . . . [He] wasn’t as sharp with the overall location as he was the first time out for us.” John Farrell on Joe Kelly’s second start since his return from the disabled list.

 

* “He’s such a good player and does it in critical moments.” Farrell on Josh Donaldson after his two-homerun, 4-5 performance for Toronto.

 

* “He throws hard and has a lot of sink on his ball. Not much you can do with it. Just try to put it in play and see what happens.” Xander Bogaerts on facing Toronto’s start Aaron Sanchez.

 

* “Bottom line is the results. I think there’s been a strong precedent set with that,” Farrell before the game on moving Clay Buchholz to the bullpen to make room for Eduardo Rodriguez.

 

 

NOTES

 

* Following Friday night’s performance, Josh Donaldson is now 12-20 in his career against Joe Kelly with a double, two home runs and nine RBIs.

 

* The Red Sox’ five runs brings their season total to 38 on the road, averaging 3.8 per game through ten road games. At home, Boston has averaged 7.8 runs through 18 games.

 

* Despite a rough start, Joe Kelly still didn’t record a loss. He hasn’t been on the wrong side of a decision since 7/22/15.

 

* Xander Bogaerts extended his streak to 20 games in his second at-bat against Aaron Sanchez. Boston’s shortstop now has the longest active streak in the league.

 

 

STARS

 

1) Josh Donaldson

Toronto’s third baseman dominated not only Joe Kelly, but Koji Uehara, launching two balls over the fence in a 4-5 day.

 

2) Aaron Sanchez

Although he got tired late, Toronto’s starter only had three earned runs through 6.2 innings against one of the most potent offenses in the league.

 

3) Xander Bogaerts

After teammate Jackie Bradley, Jr. saw his streak die Thursday night, Bogaerts squeaked one up the middle, bringing his streak to 20 games, against a starter who’s caused problems for him before.

First Impressions: Kelly’s setback unsettling

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First Impressions: Kelly’s setback unsettling

First impressions of Red Sox 7-5 loss to Toronto:

 

Joe Kelly still has to prove he can be trusted to start for the Red Sox.

With the demotion of Clay Buchholz to the bullpen after Kelly’s lockdown start in his return from the DL, Kelly went back to his old ways.

After mixing pitches well in his first outing, Kelly threw 94 pitches -- 70 fastballs -- in 4.2 innings. In his previous start, he threw 66 fastballs over 104 pitches.

That approach won’t fly, especially if his fastball command is as subpar as it was against Toronto.

The Blue Jays’ batters seemed very comfortable in the box, despite Kelly throwing as hard as he does with so much movement. That can’t become the norm for opposing hitters.

 

The Red Sox offense can handle any starting pitcher -- but they can’t do it alone.

After Jon Gray shut down Boston in the final game of the Colorado series, Red Sox hitters faced a familiar foe that had already had success against them earlier in the year in Aaron Sanchez.

Despite using his curveball much more than his start earlier in the season, Boston’s hitters made adjustments. He did hold them down for much of the early going, but Red Sox hitters still scraped out four runs in his seven innings.

But the pitching staff didn’t hold up it’s end, essentially letting Josh Donaldson beat Boston by himself.

 

Xander Bogaerts made sure Sanchez didn’t ruin the streak.

Now hitting safely through 20 games, Bogaerts extended his streak against the starter who had him baffled when they faced off earlier in the year. The biggest difference from their last matchups was Bogaerts put good swings in against Sanchez mistakes -- and he didn’t appear off-balance after every swing.

 

Matt Barnes will not be Carson Smith’s replacement in 2016.

Despite his upper 90s fastball and 12-6 curveball, Barnes still can’t put together dominant appearances. His lack of command -- with a straight fastball -- is the big reason. Boston will have to look elsewhere -- internally or from another organization -- to give the bullpen another reliable set-up man given Koji Uehara’s age and durability.

 

The baseball gods are on Boston’s side -- for now.

As if Jose Bautista sitting out after appealing an earlier suspension wasn’t enough, the Red Sox scored their first run without a hit. Then the red Sox tied the game in the eighth on an error, after Dustin Pedroia had reach on a double that landed because Michael Saunders and Kevin Pillar had a communication breakdown.

Rodriguez to start Tuesday, Buchholz to bullpen

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Rodriguez to start Tuesday, Buchholz to bullpen

As expected, Eduardo Rodriguez will start for the Red Sox on Tuesday in Baltimore and Clay Buchholz will go to the bullpen, manager John Farrell told reporters in Toronto.

The move became apparent after Buchholz (2-5, 6.35 ERA) struggled again Thursday night, allowing three two-run home runs in an 8-2 loss to the Rockies.

Rodriguez, who hurt his knee in spring training, has yet to pitch for the Red Sox this season. The left-hander, who was 10-6 with a 3.85 ERA as a rookie last season,  made three rehab starts at Triple-A Pawtucket. 

"The bottom line is the results, and there's been a strong precedent set with that," Farrell said of Buchholz in annoucning the move.