Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona informed Jacoby Ellsbury recently that he will be playing left field, with newcomer Mike Cameron in center, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein confirmed on Wednesday.
Assuming Adrian Beltre passes his physical, the Red Sox will have changes at five positions from opening day a year ago: Beltre will be at third, Marco Scutaro at short, Cameron in center, Ellsbury in left, and Victor Martinez behind the plate.
"Jacoby Ellsbury is a very good center fielder who is going to be a great center fielder,'' Epstein said in confirming remarks Francona made to the Providence Journal. "It doesn't have anything to do with how he plays center field. We're happy with his center field defense.
"It's more to do with Cameron's experience, and Ellsbury's ability to play a dynamic left field. This is not necessarily a permanent arrangement, or a long-term arrangement. But we think Cameron is still an elite center fielder ... and that's the best way to go for now.''
Cameron, who signed a two-year, $15.5 million deal with the Sox last month, has played just three games in left field in 15 seasons in the big leagues, the last in 2000.
Francona, reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, said that he called Ellsbury and Cameron last month to inform them after discussing the matter in Florida with new bench coach DeMarlo Hale and coaching assistant Rob Leary.
"I knew how I felt about it, and all of our opinions concurred,'' Francona said. "This is how I feel we can put our best ballclub in the best light, but I wanted [Ellsbury] to hear it from me.
"He was probably a little disappointed, which is what I expected, but with Cameron's long strides and Jacoby's quickness, we have a chance to have a real dynamic outfield here.''
Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.