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Ellsbury showcases speed from DH spot

MLB.com @BryanHoch

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Yankees believe that Jacoby Ellsbury is "capable of more," as general manager Brian Cashman put it in a recent interview, and the outfielder appears to be taking that challenge to heart.

Ellsbury went 3-for-3 with two stolen bases in the Yankees' 8-7 victory over the Braves at Champion Stadium. That makes it three spring swipes for Ellsbury, who once said during that he would prefer not to steal aggressively in Spring Training.

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Yankees believe that Jacoby Ellsbury is "capable of more," as general manager Brian Cashman put it in a recent interview, and the outfielder appears to be taking that challenge to heart.

Ellsbury went 3-for-3 with two stolen bases in the Yankees' 8-7 victory over the Braves at Champion Stadium. That makes it three spring swipes for Ellsbury, who once said during that he would prefer not to steal aggressively in Spring Training.

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"I probably won't try to get too many more; there's really no need," Ellsbury said. "My timing feels good. All I want to do is get a few jumps a day. I was happy I got on three times to allow me to do that."

The 33-year-old Ellsbury reached the 20-steal plateau for the fourth straight season and the seventh time in his career in 2016, swiping 20 bags, while batting .263 with nine home runs and 56 RBIs in 148 games.

As Ellsbury heads into the fourth year of a seven-year, $153 million contract, Cashman said last month that the Yankees still haven't seen the game-changing Red Sox version of Ellsbury, who led the American League three times in stolen bases (2008, 2009 and 2013).

"I just think he's got a lot of ability that we certainly have seen in the past in championship-effort runs with Boston, and I still think there's more in the tank with him for us," Cashman said Feb. 16. "Hopefully in 2017 we'll see more of that."

Ellsbury said that he felt more inclined to run on Thursday because he was in the lineup as the designated hitter.

"DHing was nice just today, because I didn't have to utilize [the legs] for defense," Ellsbury said. "I thought I'd be a little more aggressive on the bases just because of that."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he didn't know if Ellsbury was trying to prove a point on the basepaths.

"He's looked really good," Girardi said. "If that's the case -- it could be, I can't tell you -- but he was definitely raring to go and he's looked really, really good."

Girardi said that his philosophy on basestealing is that players should steal when they can get the base, as long as they are not running into "stupid outs." Ellsbury is one of several Yankees who has a green light to run.

"I try to get as many as I can," Ellsbury said. "I have a number in my head that I'd like to achieve [in the regular season], but that's every year. I make personal goals. Today was nice being the DH and getting on base and the legs felt good, so I decided to go a few times."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

New York Yankees, Jacoby Ellsbury