Uncle! There are no more tests for Jackie Bradley Jr.
|03.25.13 at 5:17 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — At a certain point, enough is enough. At a certain point, if there is a team with ambitions to contend, for whom individual wins may matter, and there is a player who represents an obvious and dramatic upgrade over the alternative, it becomes almost impossible to keep him off the roster.
That’s where the Red Sox find themselves with Jackie Bradley Jr. Time after time, the Red Sox have thrown a new wrinkle at the 22-year-old to see if the outfielder would stumble. Seemingly every time, he’s responded in eye-opening fashion.
That continued on Monday in Sarasota, when the Red Sox lost to the Orioles, 12-9. Bradley entered the game with runners on second and third in the top of the seventh inning. Against late-innings reliever Pedro Strop, he grounded a two-run single back up the middle. Then, facing lefty Chris Petrini in the ninth, he hit a two-strike breaking ball for a triple to right.
“Even against a left-hander who has decent stuff, he takes a strike, he’s not afraid to hit deep in the count with two strikes and gets a breaking ball middle of the plate,” manager John Farrell told reporters. “And what was even more impressive I think, is after a day yesterday when some left-handers tied him up a little bit, he came back today against a left-hander with some quality stuff and put a good swing on the ball.’
Nothing new there, really. Bradley has performed at an absurd level this spring.
He’s hitting .444 with a .524 OBP. He’s almost never expanding the strike zone (with a brief exception in chasing some nasty left-on-left curveballs against the Phillies on Sunday). He’s playing impactful defense at all three outfield spots. He’s showing a great feel for the game.
He has made the occasional mistake, mostly on defense, in an attempt to make a spectacular play, and his aggressiveness (occasional over-aggressiveness) in throwing the ball has been evident. Still, those are issues that big leaguers sometimes have as well. He’s also shown an ability to do things on the field that most big leaguers cannot, all while carrying himself with an air of humility — the constant desire to learn that dates back to his Little League days — and confidence, as evidenced by his desire to “push the envelope” in his big league ETA.
Now, with the Red Sox’ final roster decisions looming, Bradley is awaiting word of his fate.
“You always want to know where you’re going to go, just so you can make arrangements, if you’ve got to get an apartment or something. Everything is at the last minute,” Bradley told reporters. “Not only are y’all waiting, but I am, too.”
The wait shouldn’t last much longer.
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