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Ellsbury's lost year of development

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  February 16, 2011 06:07 PM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jacoby Ellsbury had only 78 at-bats last season. At the age of 26, he lost a season of further developing as a player.

At this time last year, the Red Sox thought he was on the verge of becoming an All-Star Now, as Terry Francona said today, he has to start again.

“When you’re that age, repetition is really good. The 500, 600 at-bats young players get, they generally, if they’re good players, get better. That’s not going to help,” Francona said. “But that doesn’t mean he can’t be a terrific player.

“When guys miss time, sometimes it takes time [to come back]. Maybe it won’t. Hopefully he falls right back into where he was. But those are important years of development for young players.”

It’s too late to make up for that. Francona said there are no plans to give Ellsbury any extra playing time in spring training.

“I don’t think that’s probably correct,” he said. “I don’t know if 10 extra at-bats in spring training necessarily makes up for a lost year. You can only go at a certain pace in spring training or you’re going to run guys into the ground.”

Francona said Ellsbury was free to try to steal as many bases as he wants in spring training. There are no restrictions on him because of the fractured ribs he suffered last year.

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