This could have been the most stressful Spring Training of Jacoby Ellsbury's career.

Not only is Ellsbury entering his free-agent season, but his potential replacement (Jackie Bradley Jr.) is lurking. In fact, Bradley is creating a certifiable buzz throughout camp -- sort of like Ellsbury did in 2007.

Then there is the matter of overcoming an underachieving, injury-plagued season of a year ago, when Ellsbury never got untracked after separating his right shoulder in the home opener.

But a recent 10-minute interview with Ellsbury revealed that he's, in fact, never been more confident or secure with where he is at.

Though there's an assumption by some that Ellsbury will never again match his dream season of 2011, the veteran center fielder doesn't blink when surmising that he's capable of turning in an even better 2013 campaign.

"I think I can," Ellsbury said. "I'm young. I feel stronger than I was in 2011. I'm more knowledgeable. So yeah, there's a lot of positive things that I took from that season that I'm going to incorporate into this year, and I feel great, my body feels good. So with all those things put together, why not?"

Quiet by nature, Ellsbury is rarely so expansive on his goals, but don't let his reserved personality fool you.

"Yeah, I mean, I always have the highest expectations," said Ellsbury. "Whatever the media has for me, I train and work to perform at the highest level possible."

Ellsbury is the utmost competitor -- something that has perhaps been lost among the general public because freak injuries in 2010 and last year robbed him of what should have been two prime years.

There's a reason that Dustin Pedroia chooses Ellsbury as the teammate he works out with the most in the winter time out in Arizona. They are a funny match -- the boisterous Pedroia and the shy Ellsbury.

But their competitive juices are very much the same.