"I was thinking, 'Yeah, the league kind of tightened down on the bases.' I hadn't even looked at it and I was like, 'How am I still in first place? I haven't stolen a base in a month.' I don't know. I was surprised," said Ellsbury.
Manny Delcarmen joked that the entire bullpen gave Ellsbury a standing ovation when he broke the dry spell.
Much like hits, stolen bases can come in bunches and disappear for a while. Ellsbury's drought on the bases went from July 2 to Aug. 4.
He notices how much tighter opponents are playing him.
"Definitely, you can see they have a little game plan, and I'm seeing a lot more pitchouts and a lot more slide steps," said Ellsbury. "A lot more [pickoff attempts]. The biggest thing is just getting on base and giving myself opportunities to steal."
Ellsbury, a rookie, still has a shot of tying or passing Tommy Harper for most stolen bases in a season by a Red Sox player. Harper stole 54 bases for the 1973 Red Sox.
One thing Ellsbury didn't lose during his stolen-base sabbatical was confidence.
"I knew it was just a matter of time before I got back on track and got in a rhythm and going again," said Ellsbury.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less