In many ways, the 2008 baseball season is already memorable for Jacoby Ellsbury.
>Leaping catch helps Sox win their opener
The Madras native was the starting center fielder for the Boston Red Sox in a 6-5 10-inning victory against Oakland played in Tokyo early Tuesday morning (March 25).
Ellsbury helped Boston stay close by making a leaping catch in the eighth inning at the wall against the A's Emil Brown. Oakland led 4-3 when Ellsbury made the catch.
This is Ellsbury's first opening-game Major League start in his four-year professional career. He started the 2007 season season playing in AA Portland (Maine) before being promoted to AAA Pawtucket (R.I.) in May.
Ellsbury made his Major League debut in June and played nearly all of September with the Red Sox, earning American League rookie of the month honors by hitting .353 and then .433 in the World Series.
Despite playing in 33 games, Ellsbury will retain his rookie status this season.
He opened this season with one hit in four at bats -- a leadoff single in the seventh. Ellsbury hit eighth instead of in the lead-off spot which he did for most of September.
Boston manager Terry Francona told the Associated Press Ellsbury will likely hit lower in the order.
"You put a young player a little bit at risk when you put him right at the top of the lineup early on," Francona said. "I know what he hit last year. It was impressive, but you're still trying to develop guys."
In the opening victory, fellow rookie outfielder Brandon Moss had the game's biggest hit. Moss drilled a solo home run in the top of the ninth to tie the score a 4-all. Manny Ramirez put the Red Sox ahead in the top of the 10th with a two-run double.
Going into this spring, Ellsbury and veteran Coco Crisp were expected to battle for the starting center field job. However, Crisp suffered a leg injury and was limited to just three spring training games. Ellsbury played in 13 spring games, hitting .209 (nine hits in 43 at bats with three doubles and a homer).
The Red Sox played one more game against Oakland in Japan on Wednesday morning. Both teams returned to the United States with Boston playing three exhibition games against the Los Angeles Dodgers starting Friday.
Saturday's game is at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to celebrate the Dodgers' 50-year anniversary in Los Angeles. The Dodgers played several seasons at the Coliseum before eventually moving to their current home, Dodger Stadium.
Boston returns to regular season play at Oakland on April 1-2. The Red Sox then go to Toronto for an April 4-6 series. Boston's home opener is April 8 against Detroit.