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News » Boston Red Sox Inside Pitch 2008-06-28

Boston Red Sox Inside Pitch 2008-06-28

Boston Red Sox Inside Pitch 2008-06-28
Theo Epstein, like just about everyone else, vividly remembers the first time he saw Jacoby Ellsbury play baseball.

"I saw him for a series out in Oregon State about six weeks before the (2005 draft)," the Red Sox general manager said. "It was two doubleheaders, and it was funny because (Sox scouting director) Jason MacLeod had been sitting on him, and Jacoby ended up having like a .500 on-base percentage that season. He really went nuts, but Jason was in the midst of seeing him in a 0-for-17 streak while he was (in Oregon).

"(Ellsbury) just hadn't done anything for Jason, so we started calling Jason 'the mush,'" added Epstein, referencing a character from the movie "A Bronx Tale" who was jinxed with bad luck and relegated to the bathroom so he couldn't spread his bad vibes to anyone else. "I made (MacLeod) turn his back after Jacoby went 0-for-2 in the game, and that's usually a no-no when you're scouting. But then Jacoby got on base via a walk, I let Jason turn around again and (Ellsbury) was going on a pitch and scored all the way from first on a single. He stood out on that field with his athleticism and the way he carried himself. There was a certain star quality even on a college field."

Luckily for MacLeod, Epstein and the Red Sox, Ellsbury turned it on in those pair of fateful college doubleheaders and impressed the Sox enough to envision him as a long-term replacement for Johnny Damon -- both in the leadoff role that Damon starred in and as a lightning-legged center fielder capable of turning extra bases into flyball outs.

Boston's front office -- with visions of the human sparkplug outfielder dancing through their heads -- made Ellsbury their first pick (23rd overall) in the 2005 draft, and the 24-year-old has already begun paying dividends this season as a rookie.

Ellsbury is leading the American League with 34 steals, is fifth in the league with 53 runs and is also among the top 10 with his three triples. The rookie is riding a seven-game hitting streak, but he has also watched his average drop to .273 -- its lowest level since the end of May.

RED SOX 6, ASTROS 1: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka rebounded from a tough first start off the disabled list to toss five shutout innings Friday for his ninth victory of the season. OF J.D. Drew provided all the pop the Red Sox would need with his team-leading 15th homer of the season -- a three-run bomb in the top of the third.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: June 28, 2008

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