Jacoby Ellsbury's phone vibrated a few times last week when the Red Sox were being honored by President Obama for winning the World Series. Ellsbury may play for the Yankees now, but that didn't stop his former teammates from showing him some love.
"They left a few messages when they went to the White House just to let me know, 'Hey, you were a part of this' and 'Congratulations,' " Ellsbury said Thursday night before going 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored in the Yankees' 4-1 win over the Red Sox at the Stadium.
Ellsbury didn't get the chance to take a selfie with David Ortiz like the infamous one Big Papi took with Obama, but Ortiz was able to snap one with him before the game. Ortiz said it was "different" seeing his "good friend" in another uniform. But he holds no ill will toward Ellsbury for signing with Boston's biggest rival.
"I can't control that and he can't, either," Ortiz said. "That's baseball. Whoever offers you the best contract, that's where you're going to be at. You're going to look out for you and your family more than anything."
It would have been hard to turn down the seven years and $153 million the Yankees gave Ellsbury. The centerfielder knew leading up to free agency that they could make a run at him, and he was interested in playing for what he views as a "top-flight organization."
Ellsbury said he didn't feel that much different just because he was playing the Red Sox, but facing Clay Buchholz was something he had never done before. Buchholz was Ellsbury's first roommate in professional baseball with the short-season Class A Lowell Spinners.
"[There are] lots of great memories, relationships," Ellsbury said of Boston. "[Buchholz will] be a friend of mine for life regardless of what jersey he has on, what I have on."
Red Sox manager John Farrell said he and general manager Ben Cherington will present Ellsbury and fellow former Red Sox-turned-Yankee Matt Thornton their World Series rings Friday. Farrell doesn't foresee Ellsbury being distracted by playing his old team.
"He's a dynamic player," Farrell said. "When he's been on the field, he's been an elite performer."
The rivalry is not lost on Ellsbury. It didn't factor into his choice to come to New York and he hasn't gotten any ribbing from former Red Sox teammates, either, but he relishes being involved with it.
"It's always been intense," Ellsbury said. "I remember as a kid watching on TV, it was an intense rivalry. Being part of it was special. I'm definitely excited to still be a part of it."
Ellsbury said he'll always look back on his time in Boston fondly. After all, he won two World Series with the Red Sox.
"I think of the championships," Ellsbury said. "I think of the fans, just the great memories, the people I met in Boston who I'll continue to have lifetime friendships with. The ups and downs in all the seasons we had. Just a lot of great memories to take away."