BOSTON (AP) — Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury received a mixed reception Tuesday night in his first game at Fenway Park as an opponent.
There were more boos than cheers when he stepped in as the first hitter against the Boston Red Sox, the team he spent seven seasons with before signing a seven-year contract with New York after last season.
The Yankees won 9-3 as Ellsbury led off the game with a triple then hit a two-run double in the fifth that made it 7-2.
“To say, if I was a young kid, ‘Hey, you’re going to put on two uniforms. You’re going to put on a Boston Red Sox uniform and a New York Yankees uniform.’ I’d say that’s pretty special,” he said.
With an 0-and-2 count against Jon Lester in the first, Ellsbury drove the ball high off the center field wall and was awarded a triple when a fan reached over and interfered with it. Ellsbury scored on a single by Derek Jeter.
In the bottom of the first, Ellsbury lost his hat as he made a sliding catch against Grady Sizemore in left-center field. Sizemore was batting first, the spot where Ellsbury hit for more than 80 percent of his games with the Red Sox.
Before the top of the second, fans cheered when the center field video screen showed highlights of his career then switched to Ellsbury in the New York dugout, waving and smiling to them.
“They were cheering so I figured I might as well stand up,” he said. “It’s the least I could do.”
Before the game, Ellsbury said he hadn’t thought about the reception he might get.
“I can’t really do anything about it,” he said. “In baseball there’s only a certain amount of things you can control and I think over my career I’ve done a good job of that.”
His reception was much warmer than the one another former Red Sox center fielder got in his first game at Fenway after signing with the Yankees following four seasons with Boston. Johnny Damon tipped his hat to the Red Sox dugout and the crowd and was booed loudly by fans on May 1, 2006. He went 0 for 4.
“The fans were trying to get me to throw balls to them out there and cheering me and I was like, ‘Man, it feels like a home game,'” Ellsbury said. “You’re going to get a little bit of (boos). It’s expected.”
Ellsbury ended the night batting .342 with no homers, eight RBIs and eight stolen bases in 20 games. In his seven years with the Red Sox, he hit .297 with 54 homers, 314 RBIs and 241 stolen bases.
“I gave the organization everything I had (for) nine years in the organization, seven years in the big leagues,” he said. “Drafted by them. Left everything on the field. Played as hard as I could. I appreciate the fans and the support they gave me over the years. They were great to me. And it was nice to see the teammates.
“I think when I look back at the fans and how they treated me, my time here, I’ll really remember that, and I’ll think of the world championships. The two World Series we won, my first year in the big leagues in ’07, and 2013. Those are things, obviously, I’ll never forget. Pretty special.”
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