Joe Maddon Always Knew Jacoby Ellsbury Had Power, But Says Center Fielder Is Now ‘Maturing as a Hitter’

Joe Maddon Always Knew Jacoby Ellsbury Had Power, But Says Center Fielder Is Now 'Maturing as a Hitter' BOSTON — Because his team plays 18 games against the Red Sox every year, Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon has seen Jacoby Ellsbury grow into a star.

The biggest difference that Maddon can see was evident Tuesday afternoon at Fenway Park, where Ellsbury's three-run homer was the difference in the Red Sox' 3-1 win over the Rays.

"He's not missing his pitch when he sees it," Maddon said. "He's always had some power. The difference now is when he gets a pitch, he hits it … He's maturing as a hitter. Now, basically, when he's seeing his pitch he's driving it."

Ellsbury's pitch in this case was a changeup in the third inning from James Shields that caught a little too much of the plate. The All-Star center fielder deposited it over the bullpens in right, his 21st in a remarkable season.

Maddon said he had predicted this power surge for Ellsbury a few years ago. However, back then, Maddon also knew how to pitch Ellsbury. Now, it's not so easy.

"As an offensive player, you look at him and what he does and how he swings a bat," Maddon added. "In the past, you could challenge him in certain situations or make a certain pitch and you could expect where the ball was going to go. Now it's going farther, and harder."

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