FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Jacoby Ellsbury's offseason was pretty routine. He did the same things he usually does.
Except that this time the Boston outfielder was enjoying it as the AL MVP runner-up. Which was much different than how Ellsbury spent the previous winter, when he was coming off an injury-filled season.
Ellsbury hit .321 with 32 home runs, 105 RBIs and 39 stolen bases last year. A last-month collapse cost the Red Sox a playoff spot and likely hurt Ellsbury in the MVP voting. Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander won the award.
"We're playing against the best competition in the world. Obviously, I did everything I could, left it all on the field last year," Ellsbury said yesterday. "When I found out about the results, I was happy for Justin Verlander. But at the same time, me being as competitive as I am, I wish I would have won."
Ellsbury scored 119 runs, had a .376 on-base percentage and a .552 slugging percentage. There was not much more he could have done to convince MVP voters of his worthiness.
He impressed one person who did not have a vote.
"I thought he was the MVP, personally," new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "I just thought his year was phenomenal."
Valentine was working for ESPN last season and watched Ellsbury get off to a good start at Texas, getting two hits and scoring twice.
"From the opening day that I saw him in Texas, his swing seemed to be so consistently good. His defense was terrific. Watching him at the end of the year, it looked like he was given the at-bats that were needed, and the numbers speak for themselves."
"I don't know, how do you get those numbers? It's an amazing body of work how he filled up all the columns. Now, what that means is that he's very good. What it means to our team is that I hope he stays healthy and I think he'll be a major contributor," he said.