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Ellsbury calls first reunion 'pretty normal'

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TAMPA, Fla. -- Jacoby Ellsbury is going to see a lot of his former team over the next several seasons, but Tuesday marked his first reunion with the Red Sox since the World Series parade back in November.

The Red Sox traveled to Tampa for a Grapefruit League game with the Yankees, but Ellsbury was out of action with a right calf injury.

"It was good. A lot of them I still talk to," said Ellsbury. "Jonny [Gomes], I'm going to see him in the cage, but I trained with him in the offseason. Yeah, it seemed pretty normal."

Ellsbury is the latest cornerstone player to change sides in baseball's marquee rivalry.

"I've always said I enjoyed playing there," said Ellsbury when asked if it was tough to leave Boston. "I have a lot of memories. I spent nine years playing in the organization. That's roughly a third of my life with one team. So definitely a lot of great memories, a lot of friends over there and I still continue to have relationships with those guys down the road."

Meanwhile, the Red Sox are still in the process of determining who will replace Ellsbury in center field. Jackie Bradley Jr., who started Tuesday's game, is competing with veteran Grady Sizemore.

"I think they're both going to do well," Ellsbury said. "They're both going to do great. I trained with Grady last offseason and I know Grady a little bit, and obviously I know Jackie well. He has a bright future, so I wish him the best. I wish both of them the best."

Ellsbury was asked if the Red Sox were given the chance to make a counter offer to New York's seven-year, $153 million megadeal.

"Oh yeah. They knew I enjoyed playing there. They definitely did," said Ellsbury.

Though Ellsbury is quiet by nature, it wouldn't be surprising if he feels a flood of emotions on April 22, when the Yankees play at Fenway for the first time this season. That might also be the day Ellsbury gets his World Series ring. The Red Sox play in New York on April 10.

"I'm looking forward to it, looking forward to the game," Ellsbury said. "I mean, you spend nine years with one organization, drafted by them, went through the Minor League system and everything, so yeah, it'll be different obviously. But I'm definitely excited for the opportunity I have here. I'm definitely blessed to have played in that organization.

"I won two championships. Those are the memories I'm going to have, all the positive stuff. But yeah I feel very fortunate to be over here with these guys, it's a great organization. These guys are hungry, wanting to win."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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