Jacoby Ellsbury: Jon Lester trade proves unpredictability of baseball business

August 01, 2014 - 3:34 pm
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As baseball players, Jon Lester and Jacoby Ellsbury don't have much in common. The way they're built and their position on the field couldn't make that more obvious. The former is a big, powerful starting pitcher known for his humble demeanor and his sneaky, game-changing ability on the mound. The latter is a speedy outfielder better known for his athleticism in the field and his threat on the base paths. However, one thing both players have in common, as of Thursday morning, is that they're both former Red Sox. Ellsbury left Boston via free agency in the offseason after signing with the Yankees on a seven-year, $153 million contract, a number unmatched by the Red Sox. Lester, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, was traded to Oakland at the deadline after contract negotiations failed to come to fruition. Ellsbury, in Boston Friday for the Yankees' three-game set at Fenway Park, came up through the Sox' minor league system with Lester and won a pair of World Series titles with him. While some may have been surprised to see Lester go, Ellsbury said he wasn't sure what to expect given the business of baseball.

"It's hard to say," Ellsbury said. "You come up through the minor league system and that's really all you know. Like I've said numerous times, I enjoyed my time in Boston and I think Lester has said the same thing but you just never know. You never know how it's going to go. I wish him the best. Hopefully things work out how he wants it too."

The Lester trade was one of just four deals made by the Sox by Thursday's 4 p.m. deadline. The deals represented a shift in focus for the last-place Sox, who appear to be rebuilding for next season.

The Yankees, however, are still in the hunt. New York is five games back in the AL East and 3 1/2 games out of the wild card entering Friday. If the money wasn't enough justification for Ellsbury, the chance to win consistently appears to be an added incentive.

Ellsbury, however, said he isn't focused on what his former team is up to.

"You can't really pay attention too much to what they're doing," he said. "You have to focus on the task at hand and that's over here, trying to get where we want to go. We're competing. We're trying to get in the playoffs, grinding, trying to do everything we can to win.

"What I talked about when I came back was the opportunity to win every year. Once you get a taste of that World Series you want to experience it each and every year. Hopefully we're stepping in the right direction."

Ellsbury is more than halfway through his first season with the rival Yankees. He's already made his return to Fenway and faced the Sox numerous times. He said he doesn't see much difference with the way the two organizations are run.

"At the end of the day it's baseball," he said. "You've got to go out there and compete, you've got to go out there and perform at a high level. Obviously both markets expect to win, which I appreciate. I appreciate that expectation that the fan base expects you to win going out there each and every night.

"This is a first-class organization, but I'm happy I spent my seven years in Boston. Two World Series, definitely appreciative of my time over there, them drafting me, going through the minor league system. Nothing but good memories."

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