There wasn’t much out of the ordinary about the start of Jacoby Ellsbury’s Thursday.
He woke up, he got his workout in, he came to the ballpark.
But when he looks across the field and sees the team he spent the first seven years of his career with sitting in the opposite dugout, he knows the difference between hanging socks and pinstripes will truly sink in.
“I think once I step on that field, that’s when I”m going to feel something,” Ellsbury said. “It’ll be different just seeing that uniform across the way.”
After spending last season as the catalyst at the top of the Red Sox lineup on the way to a World Series championship, Ellsbury explored his options as a free agent for the first time and ultimately decided to sign a seven-year, $153 million deal with the rival New York Yankees.
The decision immediate drew comparisons to former Sox leadoff center fielder Johnny Damon, who left the Sox for New York in 2005 after pushing the Sox to their first World Series in 86 years the season before.
The parallels weren’t lost on Ellsbury.
“I was always a fan of Johnny Damon,” Ellsbury said. “I liked how he played the game and how he went about his business. I know the fans in Boston loved him during his time there.
“I didn’t talk to him or anything when I decided to come here. But yeah, there are some comparables, but I know this has been done before. It’s just not Johnny. It’s just not myself. It’s a lot of guys. Like I said, I feel blessed to play for the Red Sox and I feel blessed to be here. To be a part of that rivalry still and I’m excited for another seven, eight years here.”
Ellsbury made his Yankee Stadium debut Monday in New York’s 4-2 win over the Orioles, going 2 for 4 with an RBI.
But there were things he said he had to get adjusted to.
“First thing was sitting in a different dugout,” Ellsbury said. “We had opening day here. So that was a little strange. But this clubhouse, the players, everybody here, staff has welcomed me with open arms. They’ve made me feel at home from Day 1. I’m just excited to go out there and play. We’ll see the emotions I feel once I step out on that field.”
When he signed, two of the faces of the Yankees organization, Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter, immediately reached out, Ellsbury said.
“You’re going to enjoy it here,” Jeter, who is on a farewell tour after announcing he would retire at the end of the season, told Ellsbury. “It’s a first class organization. It’s a special place to play.”
From then on, Ellsbury said he set the expectations high.
“And they’ve met them and exceeded them,” Ellsbury said. “It’s a world-class organization. Winning’s the most important thing. That was one of the biggest reasons I signed here was the chance to win championships and make the playoffs each and every year.”
Ellsbury said he will receive his ring from last season’s championship Friday. The Yankees make their first trip to Fenway April 22, and after crossing over to the other side of the rivalry, Ellsbury said he’s given some thought to the reception he’ll get, but not much.
“I think that’s the reason I love this rivalry — the passion that the fans have,” Ellsbury said. “I haven’t thought about it too much because whatever reception I receive will be out of my hands. But, as I’ve mentioned numerous times, I gave the organization everything I had.
“Every time I stepped on that field I gave 100 percent. Left it out there. I know the time I was there, people respected that — the way I played, the way I went about my business. But we’ll see what happens. I’m sure it’ll be two different receptions, tonight’s game and going down to Boston.”