By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Ellsbury speaks

Now that Jacoby Ellsbury has finally spoken out in his own defense, I just want to make a quick comment.

None of us has any idea — no, not even Kevin Youkilis — whether Ellsbury could have run hard, dived for balls and, especially, swung the bat properly if he had tried to play through the pain.

The guy is a 26-year-old star, well-liked by the fans. He’s never caused any trouble that we’re aware of. Does he want to play?

Good grief. Of course he wants to play.

And my guess is that a healthy Darnell McDonald is a better player than a hobbled Jacoby Ellsbury. So what’s the problem?

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John Henning


Time enters the reality-distortion zone


  1. BP Myers

    What’s the problem? One of the two sides is lying, that’s the problem.

    Do you honestly believe the Red Sox “refused” Ellsbury’s request to get an MRI? They may have advised it medically unnecessary (I understand the treatment for the injury is the same no matter what).

    The Youklis comment is disingenuous as well. Youk did not question Ellsbury’s ability to play through pain.

    I just don’t understand all the love Ellsbury is getting from the fans. Yeah, he’s a good player and all. But he hasn’t earned hardly the level of devotion he’s getting.

    I suspect the pink hat brigade is behind much of it.

  2. Steve Stein

    I haven’t been following this controversy closely, but as I understand it, Youk’s complaint isn’t that Ellsbury isn’t playing yet, it’s that Ellsbury isn’t “supporting the team” by being around, even though he’s hurt. Compare Pedroia, who’s with the team, taking fielding practice on his knees; batting practice kneeling on a stool.

    I think Youk has a point.

    Youk expresses his side here.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Steve and @BP: With all due respect to Youkilis, who plays hard and hurt, he ought to keep his mouth shut. Ellsbury has been rehabbing at the Arizona Performance Institute, one of the best places he could be. If Pedroia could get better faster by going there, then he should, too. (Probably not, given the nature of his injury.)

      And yes, Ellsbury’s willingness to play has definitely been questioned.

      I’m reminded of Scott Williamson, a pitcher whose guts were questioned by Curt Schilling in 2004. Like Youkilis, no one would ever question Schilling’s willingness to play hurt. But that doesn’t make him a medical expert. After the season, it turned out that Williamson needed his second Tommy John surgery.

  3. Paul Rickter

    I think the problem is that the Red Sox seem to have recurrent problems with players lacking confidence in the team’s ability to provide them with the best medical care. It seems like very early on, the Red Sox front office realized that they had another bad situation here and tried to play hardball with Ellsbury by giving Globe reporters (particularly Nick Cafardo) some info to write stories critical of Ellsbury. And now he’s responded in kind, making everybody look bad.

    Unfortunately, it seems very apparent that we have the transformation of a player from a hard-working fan-favorite who had top value into an unhappy player with a reputation of being “fragile.” Just watch, he will be traded off in the off-season for much less than he was once worth.

    To me, the interesting thing is the role Nick Cafardo (and Peter Abraham in the past day or two) played in all this. It’s common for reporters on the Red Sox beat to sometimes act as the front office’s mouthpiece, but the role Cafardo played in the destruction of Ellsbury’s reputation seems worse than usual. And it still leaves the underlying question about why the Red Sox seem to keep running into issues about medical care for their injured players.

  4. BP Myers

    @Dan Kennedy says: And yes, Ellsbury’s willingness to play has definitely been questioned.

    Not by Youklis, which your comment seemed to suggest.

    The rest is debatable, and frankly, another reason to love baseball.


  5. Steve Stein

    This, from the incomparable Charlie Pierce, is worth keeping in mind:

    “Rule No. 1 in sports-medicine controversies: most of what the front office of any team says about an injured player is a lie, and all of what is leaked anonymously from the front office about an injured player is a lie. Keep this in mind as the Jacoby Ellsbury saga grinds on.”

  6. jvwalt

    If I were recovering from a bunch of broken ribs, I don’t think I’d want to spend a lot of time flying around the country — even in a nice charter plane. Is it really normal for players with significant injuries to stay with the team?

  7. Mike Benedict

    I can understand that Ellsbury is frustrated and more than a little ticked off. That said, as BP points out, the Red Sox’s doctors’ position has been that the difference in treatment between the initial diagnosis — bruised ribs — and the actual problem of the hairline fractures is nil. I haven’t heard anyone dispute that. Here’s what Ellsbury said upon being reactivated in May: “I’m going to go out there confident. There shouldn’t be any lingering effects. … I’m not afraid of contact. Never have, never will be, even after that incident.’’

    And I have yet to find Ellsbury’s comments where he complains about back pain prior prior to the diving catch in the May 22 game — which came after his first DL stint.

    Based on the written evidence, it seems Ellsbury himself was telling everyone he was OK and much of what is coming out now strikes me as possibly revisionist.

    So while I wouldn’t dispute Pierce’s take, I would add this corollary: “(Injured) players lie, too.”

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