Ellsbury faces former mates, as Yanks, Red Sox renew hostilities

( - Jacoby Ellsbury faces his former team for the first time on Thursday when the New York Yankees begin a four-game set with the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.

"I think it'll be interesting for him," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "My thought process is that it'll be a little bit more interesting when we go there. He'll have a lot more people that are happy that he's here than maybe when we go there."

A first-round pick of the Red Sox in 2005, Ellsbury spent seven seasons in Boston and was part of two World Series titles, including last year when he hit .298 and led the majors with 52 steals.

Ellsbury, though, jumped ship this winter, signing a 7-year, $153 million deal with the Yankees.

"It was seven great years," Ellsbury said. "The guys in the clubhouse, those are relationships that I'll have for the rest of my life regardless of what uniform I'm in or the uniform they're in."

After going 0-fo-4 in Wednesday's loss to Baltimore. Ellsbury is hitting .364 with four runs scored on the year.

"Obviously the biggest thing is keeping him off the base," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He can create a lot of havoc. It was fun to see him in your own uniform. As dynamic a player as he can be, he's going to benefit from the dimensions in that ballpark. But I think we've got a pretty clear understanding of where his strengths are and how we execute to that will be the key for us just trying to control him."

Clay Buchholz will get the first crack at him on Thursday when he tries to follow up a terrible first showing. Buchholz did not get a decision on Saturday against Milwaukee, but was hit hard for six runs and 13 hits in 4 1/3 innings of his team's 7-6 loss.

"I don't think you see true velocity built until you get into the month of May and see how they maintain it over the course of the entire outing," said Farrell. "Regardless of what a pitcher has, it still comes down to location."

Buchholz has faced the Yankees 12 times and is 5-5 with a 5.32 ERA.

As bad as Buchholz was in his debut, New York's Michael Pineda was just as good in Toronto. However, he absorbed the loss, despite surrendering just one run and five hits in six innings. He also struck out five without walking a batter in his first start since the 2011 campaign.

"I'm very happy about everything, because everything is doing good, and that's what I'm looking for," said Pineda. "I've been working hard for the last two years to be here, and I'm happy with it."

This is the first of 19 meetings between the rivals this season.