Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ellsbury finding consistency on, off field

A year ago at this time, if Jacoby Ellsbury felt pretty good as he walked into the clubhouse, he'd head into the weight room and do a little lifting. If he was feeling a little beat up or worn down, he'd skip it. He still did all the lifting he needed to do, but his schedule depended more on how he was feeling than on what day it was.

Not this year.

This year, he's on a set schedule.

"Last year, I lifted when I felt better -- it was like, 'Well, I'm feeling a little dead today, so I'm not going to lift,'" he said. "This year, I'm on a routine. I'm on a schedule. A lot of the stuff I do now is routine-oriented -- I do this at the time -- just to stay consistent with everything."

His newfound consistency in his routine makes him a candidate to avoid the July slump he endured a year ago. He hit .272 and OBP'ed .343 before last year's All-Star break but went 9 for 54 (.173) over the next two weeks before righting the ship with a big August and September.

But he wasn't playing as often last season as he's playing now. When the Red Sox went into the All-Star break a year ago, Ellsbury had started in 77 of the team's first 97 games. This year's All-Star break a week away, and Ellsbury has played more games (78) than anyone except Jason Bay (81) and Dustin Pedroia (79).

For all of the concern about his on-base percentage and his strike-zone discipline, he's actually been the most consistent hitter the Red Sox have. He's the only player on the team to have hit .280 in April, May and June, and his .303 batting average leads the team by a healthy margin. (Kevin Youkilis is second at .291, and Pedroia is third at .290.)

That's a far cry from a year ago, a season in which he hit .280 in April, .245 in June and .340 in September.

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