Jacoby Ellsbury‘s season is winding down in anticlimactic fashion. His first year in New York is ending not only without the promise of a playoff appearance, but also with Ellsbury sidelined by a hamstring injury.

Ellsbury’s year has been solid if somewhat short of his career norms. He’s hit .271 with a .328 OBP and .419 slugging mark, a bit down from his career line with the Red Sox of .297/.350/.439, though he did hit 16 homers (the second highest total of his career) and steal 39 bases, making him one of the premier power/speed combinations in the game, in 149 contests. Though Ellsbury characterized his season as ultimately disappointing based on the imminence of its conclusion for the Yankees, he also suggested that the transition from the Sox to the Yankees — in the first year of his seven-year, $153 million deal — had gone as well as he could have hoped for.

“I think a lot of my goals are team goals. Obviously it’s not a good feeling not to make the postseason,” said Ellsbury. “I know a lot of guys are going to work hard in the offseason from day one, try to get better. From a personal standpoint, I’m always setting the bar high for myself, always trying to improve. That’s going to be no different this offseason, but from a team standpoint, it’s something, yeah, you don’t want to experience again. When you do win, it’s the best feeling. You want to feel that again.”

As for his adaptation to New York, Ellsbury said that his first year with an organization other than the Sox had gone as smoothly as he could have hoped.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Ellsbury. “I like that comfort. I’d never been anywhere else. I like the, I always wanted to play for one team. It obviously didn’t work out that way. But this has been an unbelievable season in the sense of, the guys walking in the clubhouse, I’ve loved my first season in New York. I loved everything about it. I’m excited about the future. I’m excited about the next, at least, six years.”

From an on-field standpoint, Ellsbury did enjoy at least one lasting, memorable moment with the Yankees. Derek Jeter‘s walkoff hit on Thursday, in his final Yankee Stadium home game, offered it.

“For how it ended, it’s something I’ll always remember. The fans all game, I thought it felt like a playoff atmosphere with weather, with the crowd, everything. It was a special moment,” said Ellsbury. “Unfortunately, it was only one year [that Ellsbury played with Jeter]. As I was telling him, I wish it could have been longer, but I feel blessed for the privilege of having played with him for at least one year. I always try to take something from each guy in this clubhouse. There’s a lot I can take for my career, going down the road, from Jeter.”

With Jeter’s departure, the Yankees now face a transition in identity. Ellsbury could be a part of that, though he downplayed the notion the notion that he will assume a forced mantle of leadership.

“No one’s going to replace Jeter — 20 years in one organization, five championships, all the statistics. You just try to be yourself, for me, lead by example and try to do everything the right way,” said Ellsbury. “I know these guys in this clubhouse, like I said, are excited about next year. The goal is to get into the postseason and make a run every year. That expectation of it, I enjoy that. The fans enjoy it. They have high expectations. That’s one of the biggest reasons I chose New York, was because of that. I think you just have to be yourself.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar joined Middays with MFB on Friday to discuss whether Derek Jeter should play in his final series this weekend at

Kevin Millar

Kevin Millar

MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar joined Middays with MFB on Friday to discuss whether Derek Jeter should play in his final series this weekend at Fenway Park. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Following Thursday’s walkoff single against the Orioles in his emotional final game at Yankee Stadium, Jeter said he will serve as designated hitter but not play shortstop when he faces the Red Sox this weekend.

Some have said Jeter should allow Thursday’s dramatics to go in the history books as his final sendoff and skip the Sox series. Millar does not agree.

“The one thing Derek knows is he’s got class. And he knows how important it is for him to play in this series,” Millar said. “I get you, it’s a great argument, it’s a great debate. Last night, storybook, you just ride off into the wind. The best thing for him would be if they won the World Series. … At the end of the day, it’s important for the fans, it’s important for the ownership of the Red Sox, it’s important for Red Sox Nation.

“It’s just, the rivalry. He cannot not play. So he’s going to do DH some, get out and they can say goodbye to him also. But that’s my point, is that: Get out there and appreciate this, because it’s over after Sunday. And then there’ll be another shortstop, they’ll go out and sign Hanley Ramirez or whoever their next generation’s going to be. … But we get a chance to see Derek Jeter, pretty cool, one of the greatest to ever play the game.”

Added Millar: “I think Jeter’s chapter he wrote, it’s already signed, sealed, delivered, that book’s closed. Now this is just a favor, a favor for the Red Sox fans and this rivalry over 20 years to play these next three days.”

Millar joined the chorus of people praising Jeter for the way he’s handled himself over two decades as a Yankee.

“There’s certain stars that have a way to slow down their heart rate in big situations. Tom Brady‘s one of them. Derek Jeter’s another one. Joe Montana back in the day was another one. The great ones do that,” Millar said. “This guy, I don’t think we can appreciate how awesome he’s been — five rings, 3,400 hits, never in trouble, mom and dad are there to support him. It’s refreshing to see the normalcy that he brought, even though we don’t know who Derek Jeter really is, because he’s so guarded and closed.

“But he brought a normalcy at least, when you compete against him, when you said hello to him — fake, real or not, it doesn’t matter. He treated you with respect on that team, in that arena.”

For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

The Red Sox start their final series of the year on Friday night when the Yankees come to Boston for Derek Jeter‘€™s last-ever games in the major leagues. Knuckleballer Steven Wright will get the start against New York’€™s Chris Capuano.

Steven Wright

Steven Wright

Pitching in place of Rubby De La Rosa, Wright (0-0, 3.38 ERA) will be making his first start of the season with the Red Sox. The last time Wright pitched this year was three innings out of the bullpen on Saturday against the Orioles. He gave up three hits, one run and struck out six.

Though he has not made a start in the big leagues this season, Wright has one relief outing where he pitched five innings. Wright struck out six and allowed just three baserunners and no runs over five innings on Sept. 7 against the Blue Jays at home. This performance came during fellow knuckleballer R.A. Dickey’€™s start. Dickey got the win, but he said he was impressed with Wright’€™s pitching.

“To be honest, he had a better knuckleball than I did tonight,” Dickey said. “Our velocities are a little different. We had a light wind at my back, which made it tough to make it move the way I wanted, but it was moving enough to get off the barrels today and I made some big pitches when I needed them.”

Wright’€™s game plan against a powerful Blue Jays lineup was simple: Just throw strikes.

“It felt good to get out there. I was just trying to throw strikes, as many strikes as I could, then hope to put it in play with some weak contact so I could try to go as deep as I can,” Wright said.

Wright made one start in 2013, coming against the Astros in August. He lasted just one inning and was charged for three runs. This season with the Pawtucket Red Sox, the right-hander pitched to a 5-5 record and a 3.41 ERA in 15 starts.

Wright has never faced the Yankees in his brief major league career.

Capuano (2-4, 4.67 ERA) began his 2014 season with the Red Sox out of the bullpen. In 28 relief outings, he had a 4.55 ERA and a 1-1 record before he was traded to the Rockies. After a brief stint with Colorado’s Triple-A affiliate, the left-hander was acquire by the Yankees, who had a depleted pitching rotation.

Since joining the Yankees, he’€™s won two games in 11 starts. Last Saturday against the division rival Blue Jays, Capuano was tagged for four runs in 5 2/3 innings. The Yankees held an early lead, but a three-run sixth inning ended Capuano’€™s day.

“We’ve got a lead right there, we’re in the second half of the ball game, so that’s tough,” Capuano said after the game. “You hate to let a game get away from you when you’re kind of cruising like that.”

Capuano has not fared well in two starts against Boston this season. He allowed four runs in each start against the Red Sox, once on Sept. 4 and the other on Aug. 1. If Koji Uehara had not blown the save, Capuano would have a 0-2 record vs. Boston this season.

David Ross, Allen Craig and David Ortiz all have some success against the left-hander, as each has two home runs against him.

Yankees vs. Wright (RHP)

Chris Young has one walk in two plate appearances against Wright, while Brendan Ryan is 0-for-2 against the knuckleballer.

Red Sox vs. Capuano (LHP)

David Ross (19 career plate appearances): .278 average/.316 OBP/.722 SLG, 2 home runs, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Allen Craig (16): .533/.563/1.200, 4 doubles, 2 home runs, 6 RBIs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Xander Bogaerts (7): .286/.286/.286

Brock Holt (7): .333/.333/1.667, 1 home run, 1 triple, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout

Will Middlebrooks (7): .286/.286/.429, 1 double, 3 strikeouts

Mike Napoli (7): .429/.429/.571, 1 double 1 RBI

Mookie Betts (6): .333/.333/.333

David Ortiz (5): .600/.600/1.800, 2 home runs, 4 RBIs

Jemile Weeks (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 strikeout

Yoenis Cespedes and Christian Vazquez are both 0-for-2 against Capuano.

Blog Author: 
Andrew Battifarano

Derek Jeter and Dustin Pedroia have developed a bond over the years.</p>
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When asked to describe what he saw unfold in New York Thursday night, David Ortiz simply said, “Perfection.”

Derek Jeter celebrates his walk-off single Thursday night at Yankee Stadium. (Getty Images)

Derek Jeter celebrates his walk-off single Thursday night at Yankee Stadium. (Getty Images)

When asked to describe what he saw unfold in New York Thursday night, David Ortiz simply said, “Perfection.”

Derek Jeter punctuated his Yankee Stadium career in unbelievable fashion, singling in the game-winning run to hand the Yankees a 6-5, walkoff win over the Orioles Thursday night. Making the moment even more incredible was that the only reason Jeter had the opportunity to claim his opposite field, RBI single was because Baltimore claimed two home runs in the ninth off Yankees closer David Robertson, eliminating a three-run New York lead.

“Wow. That’€™s him. Perfect,” Ortiz said. “I would say the Yankees fans this year, they’€™re not going to go to the playoffs, but that was like a playoff game right there when you end up winning it. It was unbelievable.”

After the game, in an interview with MLB Network, Jeter said that he would play during the Yankees three-game set against the Red Sox at Fenway Park this weekend “in some capacity,” but not while playing shortstop.

(Jeter’s family is slated to be at Sunday’s game, with Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig scheduled to be in attendance at Saturday’s tilt.)

“I think he should, and he will,” said Ortiz when asked about Jeter playing. “Even one at-bat. I know that he probably will be thinking about leaving it right there. But he’€™s a guy who knows what he does very well. Everybody is expecting him to get an at-bat or play in a game, or whatever.”

For more on Jeter’s final game in the Bronx, click here.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Since Rusney Castillo arrived with the Red Sox, the reviews have been mixed.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox

Fellow Red Sox rookie Christian Vazquez congratulates Rusney Castillo after the outfielder’s first career home run. (Getty Images)

Since Rusney Castillo arrived with the Red Sox, the reviews have been mixed.

The outfielder has shown an ability to go get the ball in the outfield, while taking to coaching like the Red Sox would hope he would. He showed hints of pop, particularly to right field. Conversely, Castillo’s much-publicized speed has come under some scrutiny, possessing a pedestrian time of 4.4 seconds down the first line (due in part to an aggressive hitting follow-through).

It all added up to four hits in 23 at-bats (.174) with one run and a single RBI (claimed on a bases-loaded walk).

Thursday night, however, Castillo went next-level.

The rookie play a key role in the Red Sox’ blowout, 11-1 win over the Rays at Fenway Park, launching his first big league homer — clearing the left field wall with at three-run blast off a 92 mph fastball from Tampa Bay starter Jeremy Hellickson. He also just missed a second by a few feet, having to settle for a seventh-inning double.

With catcher Christian Vazquez hitting a second-inning homer over the left field wall, and Garin Cecchini sending a fly ball over the right field fence Wednesday night, the Red Sox have had three rookies hit their first major league homers in the past two nights.

Like Castillo, Vazquez’ night wasn’t just limited to a home run. The backstop went 4-for-4 with three RBI. Also pitching in for the offense was fellow rookie Bryce Brentz (2-for-4).

Also of note was Allen Webster’s outing. The righty starter turned in yet another solid performance, this time allowing one run on seven hits over seven innings. He struck out five and walked one while throwing a season-high 99 pitches.

In his last three starts, Webster has allowed four runs in 18 2/3 innings, striking out 10 and walking three.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

With three games to play — and little on the line – the Red Sox are playing it safe.