Jackie Bradley wasn’t nervous, but he was pretty good
|04.01.13 at 7:38 pm ET|
NEW YORK – Nobody would have blamed Jackie Bradley if he had some butterflies while patrolling left field at Yankee Stadium Monday.
He was, after all, starting for the Red Sox for their Opening Day game against the Yankees after experiencing just 550 professional plate appearances.
“I wasn’t nervous,” Bradley said after the Red Sox’ 8-2 win. “I’m never really nervous to tell you the truth. I was ready. I was excited. Just trying to do whatever I can to help the team win. I’m a pretty relaxed guy.”
The 22-year-old – who turns 23 April 19 – certainly didn’t appear to possess any anxiety. He did what he had done in spring training, and throughout a brief minor league career before that.
Bradley finished his first major league game going 0-for-2 with three walks, two runs and an RBI. The outfielder saw a total of 26 pitches during his five at-bats.
“It was exciting. Big crowd. Enjoying every second of it,” he said. “Taking it all in.”
The two aspects of Bradley’s game that perhaps jumped out the most were the left-handed hitter’s plate discipline and ability in the outfield.
Starting with his first at-bat against CC Sabathia, in which he worked a seven-pitch walk, Bradley showed he was going to carry over his game into the majors, no matter how big the stage.
“It’s very good, being able to see that many pitches, work the count,” said Bradley, who became the first Red Sox player to reach in his first major league plate appearance while making his debut on Opening Day since Joe Lahoud in 1968.
“I really pride myself on trying to make the pitcher work and not swing and try to make the pitcher work. That way I’m able to get on base and give the guys behind me a chance to let me run a little bit.”
Then there was the third-inning catch of Robinson Cano‘s fly ball with two outs and a runner at second.
Cano lofted an opposite-field fly ball toward the wall, sending Bradley sailing back. At the last minute, just before arriving at the warning track, the outfielder adjusted his body, reversing course, and hauled in what would have been a run for the hosts.
“I knew right off the bat it was going to be over my head,” he said. “It was one of those balls where you run back and pick a spot where you think it’s going to land. I work on that quite a bit often. I happened to look back up at the right time and there it was, coming right at me.”
Add in a run-scoring groundout in the seventh, along with the Red Sox’ win, and it added up to a fairly successful debut.
“I was pretty hungry out there,” Bradley said. “It’s just great, being able to get the first one out of the way. I can’t wait to get back on the field again.”
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