NEW YORK – Joe Girardi is happy to see Jacoby Ellsbury in Yankees pinstripes instead of the uniform of the rival Boston Red Sox.
“You are going to make my job a lot easier,” the New York manager told his new outfielder. “You no longer are a thorn in my side. You are a flower in our clubhouse, and I’m happy to have you.”
Ellsbury agreed to a $153 million, seven-year contract Dec. 3, and the deal was completed four days later. He was formally introduced Friday at a Yankee Stadium news conference, part of an offseason transformation that has seen New York add Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran while watching Robinson Cano depart.
Ellsbury will wear No. 22 with the Yankees, taking over the number of Roger Clemens, another Boston star who moved south to New York.
No. 2, Ellsbury’s uniform with the Red Sox, belongs to Yankees captain Derek Jeter. Ellsbury was No. 23 in college, but that’s retired in honor of Don Mattingly. And Ellsbury started his big league career with No. 46, which was worn by Andy Pettitte and isn’t being given out any time soon, if at all.
“Twenty-two, I’ve never worn that number, but 2 is my favorite number, so why not have two of them?” Ellsbury said.
A lefty-hitting leadoff man, the 30-year-old led the majors with 52 steals despite a broken foot late this season. He finished with a .298 average, nine homers and 53 RBIs.
Ellsbury’s arrival was linked to the slow negotiations with All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano, who left for a $240 million, 10-year deal with Seattle.
“We have to start moving now,” Cashman remembered telling his bosses. “And to move early, you have to step up and separate yourself from the pack.”