BOSTON (AP) — Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury received a mixed reception Tuesday night in his first game at Fenway Park as an opponent.
Boos drowned out 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.
With an 0-and-2 count against Jon Lester, 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 Ellsbury in the New York dugout, waving and smiling to them.
“I haven’t really thought about the reception too much just because it’s out of my hands,” he said before the game. “I can’t really do anything about it. 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, just controlling what I can.”
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.
Ellsbury began Tuesday night’s game with a .338 batting average, no homers, six RBIs and eight stolen bases in 19 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.”