ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Red Sox manager Terry Francona and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury both confirmed that the plan going forward is to play Ellsbury in center field on a regular basis, even with the return of Mike Cameron.
"They told me I would be in center," Ellsbury said prior to the Red Sox' Tuesday night game with the Rays. "I don't know what that means, but I'm assuming I'll play center for the rest of the year."
Ellsbury wasn't in the Sox' lineup Tuesday, getting what Francona described as a "breather" after having played the last three games following his stint on the 15-day disabled list (ribs). Cameron got the start in center field.
"I think so for now," said Francona of the plan to put Ellsbury in center field. "The good news is that they can both play. I think that's probably the right thing to do, at least for the moment, in the near future. I've talked to both of them about it. Both of them said, 'Whatever you need to do.' I just know we can't play Cam every day yet. Hopefully we'll get that point, but we need to be aware of what he's gone through going forward. Because we have [Jeremy] Hermida it's kind of a natural back and forth ... I do think it might be a little bit easier on him."
Ellsbury played six games in left field before having to go on the DL with cracked ribs. He makes no mistake about the fact that all things being equal center field remains his preferred position.
"That's my natural position," said Ellsbury, who said he did feel comfortable playing left in his short time there earlier this season.. "I've had success playing center field. I've played there my whole life. It's definitely my natural position.
"It's just nice to always have a position. You just know where you're going to be at. You don't have to look at the lineup every single day. 'Hey, I'm going to be at short, I'm going to be at second, I'm going to be at third, I'm going to be at first.' It's nice to have one mainstay position."
For Cameron the experience in left will be somewhat new, not having played there in a major league game since 2000. And while the 37-year-old did man left for Double A Portland in his final rehab appearance, other than a brief stint in the minors his experience left is limited to three big league games.
"I don't think I'll have a problem with it," said Cameron, who said he wasn't surprised by the move when told because the team had discussed the possibility when he first signed.. "Whatever they decide to do. But I feel pretty good now, so we'll see. I'm just trying to get a chance to a chance to get out here and run around and try and play the game to the best I can possibly play it. If that's the case, man, then it is what it is."
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