Once Jacoby Ellsbury pulled out his notes today, I knew something was up.
Armed with talking points, Ellsbury went on the offensive against the Red Sox medical staff for the second time this season. You can see the details in the post we had earlier today. Be advised that his 11-minute statement did not come in response to a question.
It’s uncertain why Ellsbury would make the dispute public and call into question the care he received from the team. These are the same people he has to work with for at least the rest of this season. Beyond that, why inflame the controversy more?
The Red Sox have been struggling for victories lately and when Ellsbury returned to the team after a five-week absence, the first thing he did was create an off-field issue. That won’t help his popularity within the clubhouse.
The proper course of action would have been to raise his question in private and in public simply say he was looking to get back on the field and help the team. There could well be a problem with how the team cared for him. But at this point, why broach that topic to reporters?
Theo Epstein did not engage in the debate.
“That’s behind us. The focus of Jacoby and the team remains on getting Jacoby healthy and ready to play as soon as possible,” he said.
But a team source said that many of Ellsbury’s comments today contradicted what he told the medical staff or simply weren’t true. The source emphasized that when Ellsbury was cleared to play in May, it was only because he declared himself to be free of symptoms. Now Ellsbury claims he had back pain all along from the posterior broken rib.
I have no idea who is right. Probably both sides are to some degree. But having it play out in public doesn’t help.
It also was curious said that Ellsbury said he wanted to go to Arizona so his presence with the team would not be a distraction. Why he would be a distraction more than any one of the other injured players isn’t certain.
It’s difficult to determine what the upside of this could be for Ellsbury and agent Scott Boras. Perhaps they are trying to deflect attention away from Ellsbury’s lengthy absence or somehow create an issue that could be raised in contract negotiations.
Regardless, I’m inclined to agree with Globe colleague Nick Cafardo, who thinks Ellsbury will be traded over the winter.