Ellsbury returns, hits first homer as Yankee

Ellsbury returns, hits first homer as Yankee

NEW YORK -- Three days off seem to have done the trick for Jacoby Ellsbury, who returned to the Yankees' lineup on Thursday after a brief layoff to rest a sore left hand. He then hit a leadoff homer in the first -- his first home run as a Yankee.

Ellsbury missed just one game during the mini-break, thanks to a team off-day on Monday and a rain postponement on Wednesday. He launched his first Bombers blast to right field off Mariners rookie Roenis Elias, producing half of the Yanks' production in a 4-2 loss.

"It was nice getting that first one. Too bad it couldn't come in a win, but it was definitely nice to get that first one out of the way," Ellsbury said.

The homer was Ellsbury's 11th career leadoff home run and his first since last Sept. 29, against the Orioles in Baltimore. It was also the Yanks' first leadoff homer since Derek Jeter hit one on Aug. 21, 2012, against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.

"He's been swinging the bat well," Jeter said. "You don't necessarily need him to hit home runs to help us win, but I'm sure it feels good for him to get his first one. Sometimes the first one is the hardest one to get. He's been doing pretty much everything good for us."

The ball was caught by a fan and delivered to Ellsbury, who is batting .309 with eight doubles, two triples and 12 RBIs in 26 games. He said that he was not worried about the zero that had been sitting in his home run column.

"I think for me, not really, because no one is expecting me to hit 30 or 40 homers. I'm a leadoff hitter," Ellsbury said. "It's nice to get that first one out of the way, but it wasn't like I was thinking about it -- like, hey, I need to hit a home run right here, or I need to get a home run today.

"I feel like when I do hit them, I typically hit them in bunches. That's kind of the way it's been throughout my career."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.