- Wallace Matthews, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- So what did you expect, anyway? Bouquets? Air kisses? A standing ovation?
Jacoby Ellsbury, a valued member of two Boston Red Sox world championship teams who now happens to play for the hated Yankees, got what most players who go from "here" to "there" get when they return to their former home.
Ellsbury was booed, although neither as long nor as loudly as you might expect, as he led off Tuesday night's game between the Yankees and Red Sox at Fenway Park. No surprise there.
The surprise came a few seconds later, when Ellsbury silenced the crowd by lining Lester's third pitch to the deepest part of the ballpark, where a fan leaned out of the stands and touched the ball before it hit the wall, causing the umpires to rule fan interference and award Ellsbury a leadoff triple.
After the umpires conference, Derek Jeter lined the next pitch into center field for a base hit, and Ellsbury, who sprinted all the way around the bases before the umpires sent him back to third, scored easily to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead.
And to take the Fenway faithful out of the game before it had hardly begun. The Yankees eventually went on to win 9-3.
It was hardly the homecoming anyone on either side could have anticipated considering the intensity of the rivalry and the history of traditional fan reaction to player movement between the two teams.
"I'm kinda interested to see what happens tonight," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said beforehand.
Prior to his second at-bat, Ellsbury poked his head out of the Yankees dugout and waved, drawing cheers from the fans. When he came to the plate with two on and none out in the second, he was booed again, perhaps a bit louder than before his first at-bat. But he got more cheers when he flied out to left. Ellsbury's third at-bat drew raucous cheers -- he grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the third. He finished the game 2-for-5.
Ellsbury, for his part, has seemed profoundly uninterested in how he would be welcomed back to the park where he had played all seven of his previous big-league seasons. He signed a seven-year, $153 million free-agent contract with the Yankees in the off-season, and as far as is known -- Ellsbury has refused to discuss the negotiations -- never received an offer from the Red Sox.
"I've always said it's nothing I'm not going to worry about because it's out of my hands," Ellsbury said before the game. "I gave the organization everything I had. Ever since I've been in the system I've left everything on the field. Played as hard as I could."
Asked if he would tip his cap to the crowd, as Johnny Damon did, theatrically, while being thunderously booed during his first appearance as a Yankee in 2006, Ellsbury said, "haven't thought about it. I guess it's probably what kind of reception you get, right?"
Ellsbury got the expected reception, and no, he did not tip his cap.
Instead, he did something a lot more damaging, and probably, a lot more infuriating.
4hJacob Nitzberg, ESPN Stats & Information
20hRandy Jennings, Special to ESPN.com