Last season, Ellsbury shattered nearly every goal on the checklist, winning a Gold Glove, stealing 39 bases and gathering 32 homers and 105 RBIs. His .321 batting average also helped him earn his first All-Star nod and finish second in the American League MVP race.
He's determined to repeat the performance again in the 2012 season. While he declined to divulge the specific details of his goals — Ellsbury considers them personal — the center fielder explained the process.
"I went into my workouts, how I went about it last year, and made goals for this coming season," Ellsbury said. "I think the biggest thing is to continue what I’ve been doing. Those goals, I always say at the beginning of the year, I revisit them throughout the season. They're personal goals. I'm just excited for coming into this season."
Considering Ellsbury was the runner-up to Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander in the MVP race, it's not a stretch to assume winning the award may be on the 28-year-old's upcoming list.
"When I found out about the results, I was happy for Justin Verlander," Ellsbury said. "But at the same time, me being as competitive as I am, I wish I would've won. If you asked all those other guys, they would have said the same thing, too."
Over the offseason, Ellsbury inked a one-year, $8.05 million deal with Boston to avoid arbitration. But the rising expectations will remain on Ellsbury, as he works to prove that 2011 wasn't a fluke.
In Grapefruit League action, the outfielder posted subpar numbers, going 16-for-58 (a .276 average) with six RBIs.
Having witnessed Ellsbury's skills from the ESPN booth and personally in Fort Myers, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine can appreciate Ellsbury's potential as he enters the prime of his career.
"If he's not totally unique, he's in a real small sample," Valentine said. "He's just a joy."
Through three games, the outfielder has started a little slow, hitting .154 with one RBI. But Ellsbury's MVP-caliber season keyed the Red Sox to a scorching stretch after they started the 2011 season with an 0-6 record.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) is offering 100 healthy tips to celebrate Fenway Park’s centennial. Visit 100pitches.org to learn more.