Crisp Or Ellsbury? Only The Future Will Tell.
Good morning on this frigid Wednesday pre-dawn day. Everyone has arrived for spring training in Fort Myers, everyone except Sir Manny, Julio Lugo and one of the candidates to start in centerfield, Coco Crisp. Tito Francona, said to be near a contract extention (finally!), had a few words to say about the upcoming competition for the starting centerfielder's job. And Jacoby Ellsbury, the young gun who has bulked up by twenty pounds or so to add power to his already great overall skills, both offensively and defensively AND on the basepaths, also chimed in with his thoughts. This is from the Boston Globe, and the first words are from our winning skipper, Tito...
"I think it's somewhat important for our staff and the ball club to not lose sight of what Coco did for us last year," Francona said. "He played center field as good as you can. He played banged up when he probably shouldn't have at times.
"It got to a point where I think we felt like we needed to make a change in the playoffs. And that happens. And Coco handled it with grace, which we appreciated.
"I just think coming into camp, we're not going to forget as an organization that he's the incumbent."
That means the Red Sox will have to be down to one center fielder as the season opens. That might mean one of them on the bench. That might mean one of them with another organization. Either way, there seems to be some competition in camp for the first time in a long while.
"With whatever level you're at, you're always fighting for your job," Ellsbury said. "When I was in high school, as a freshman, I was fighting for that center-field spot. Didn't let it get to me. When I was in college, as a freshman, trying to fight for that center-field spot. In pro ball. And now, same thing.
"It's the best players in the world, and you just have to be ready for it. I keep on saying I'm willing to get better, but I know both of us want it. We're going into this spring training getting ready for the season. I'm sure both are getting ready for the starting spot." That's their decision to make," Ellsbury said. "I went into the offseason, worked hard to be the center fielder. But it's their decision and I'll respect it either way."
Peter here, and well said, Jacoby. Coco had nothing to say on the subject because Coco isn't there yet. The last day for reporting is today, so he, as well as Lugo and Manny, are NOT late. I wanted to stress that. STRONGLY.
So here's what I think of the centerfield competition. One, there are NO losers. I want to stress that. Having four outfielders is a must for a major league baseball team. The season is long and filled with injuries, some brief and some debilitating. We hope for the former, NOT the latter, but all of us would rather not have to have ANY injuries in the first place. Coco proved what he could do defensively for us last year. He flew like Superman to snare line drives to left and right center that were destined to have "gap" as their middle name. And we stood. And we cheered our voices ragged. But then there was Jacoby Ellsbury. In the World Series. He had a wonderful postseason at the plate, in the field and on the basepaths. His speed is blindingly fast, he is so young, and we will be seeing him in our spacious and green Fenway Park centerfield for a decade or more. He worked out with weights during the off season, gaining muscle as well as 20 or so pounds. He's always been a gap line drive hitter, but now he feels that if his bat gets "under" the ball, just a little, that lift will carry the stitched roundball into the seats instead of to the warning track. And I can't wait to see him.
I'm sure when Coco arrives in camp, hopefully today, he will have something to say. Here are my thoughts of his first few days in camp. He will be sullen and grumpy, just a little, because he's the incumbent, the one who SHOULD be out there in center. But he knows he'll have competition, young competition, and that foe for the starting job has a name. Ellsbury. MAY THE COMPETITION BEGIN. I do hope this...I hope both Coco and Jacoby can get along in 2008 while sharing the centerfield job. I know only one of them will be "THE" GUY, and I hope the other will accept it. Or, well....hummm, let me think. OK, mission accomplished, and it didn't take too long, either. Coco might want to be traded if things do not go his way. That's his decision. There are plenty of teams who covet him. I, for one, hope it does not come down to that.
Wow, I thought this Wednesday post would be short, brief and to the point. But once my fingers, totally separate from my brain, got going, I couldn't stop this cascade of words. As always, thank you for being here, and please say a prayer for fellow blogger Kaylee. Michael Leggett, a fellow blogger, told me in a comment from my Tuesday post (just below), that it is bone cancer, and it has spread. That makes me sad beyond the scope of the English language. If you can, just go to my Tuesday post, just below this one, and click on the title and leave her a message of hope. In fact, I will link her "cancer" blog to the title of THIS post. So just look up and click on "CRISP OR ELLSBURY." Any helpful words will give her hope. I tried to leave her two comments, but I guess they were not approved. Everybody else, but not me. So what. She knows how I feel, and I promise you that if you leave her a comment, she'll see it. The important thing is this...KAYLEE, GET BETTER. I know it won't be easy, but if anyone can do it, YOU CAN. I have faith. I believe. IN YOU. So don't cry...fight! We're all behind you.
Thanks, my Constant Readers. Stay healthy, be safe and, most importantly, be well. FOREVER. Impossible? No way, no how. Enjoy your Hump Day. And click on the title of this post to instantly be directed to Kaylee's blog. I thank you for that. More than you'll ever know.