Ellsbury: 'It all comes back to work ethic'

Yanks hoping center fielder returns to speedy form in 2017

Ellsbury: 'It all comes back to work ethic'

TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury said he does not feel pressure to live up to his $153 million contract, and he will just continue to focus on improving his game.

Ellsbury, who delayed his arrival to camp because of the birth of his second child, said he is ready to get to work. His slash line of .264/.326/.382 in three years with the Yankees is below his career average.

"You just try to be the best player you can possibly be," Ellsbury said. "You can't try to do too much. It all comes back to work ethic. You put the time in and do everything you can do to prepare for the season, and really, that's all you can do. You can live with the results as long as the work is there."

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General manager Brian Cashman said this past week that he wants to see more from the 33-year-old, and he believes he has more in the tank.

Manager Joe Girardi said it's important for Ellsbury to continue to play strong defense in center field and generate runs.

"Getting on base and scoring runs is huge for us," Girardi said. "If [Ellsbury and Brett Gardner] can get on base and score runs and be on all the time, they are going to create issues for the other club.

"They can score on doubles from first, they can steal bases. ... There's so much they can do. To me, it's him getting on base and scoring runs. If he does that, he's doing his job."

Ellsbury, who swiped a career-high 70 bags in 2009, has seen his stolen-base total drop from 39 to 20 over the past three seasons. However, he's hopeful that a lineup filled with younger players will give him more opportunities to run.

Ellsbury has also been working with batting coach Alan Cockrell on moving his contact point closer to his body and being more consistent with his swing.

"From an individual standpoint, you're always trying to get better," Ellsbury said. "Even with my best seasons, I look for stuff I could be better at doing."

Corey Long is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.