Ken Rosenthal on D&C: ‘Lot of things to like about’ Jackie Bradley Jr.
|04.02.13 at 10:31 am ET|
Fox senior baseball writer Ken Rosenthal checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning to discuss Jackie Bradley Jr.’s major league debut, the Red Sox‘ 8-2 Opening Day win over the Yankees and other early season baseball topics.
Although he did not record a hit, Bradley was impressive in his first major league game. He finished 0-for-2 with three walks, two runs scored and an RBI. He also made a terrific catch, robbing Robinson Cano of extra bases, and preventing the Yankees from getting their first run.
“He showed a maturity on the field that is rare for a player his age,” Rosenthal said. “Coming back from 0-2 against [CC] Sabathia, the catch he made in left field, because of course that’s a new position for him, even the baserunning. Obviously it’s just running hard, but it’s refreshing to see. So, there are a lot of things to like about him.”
After Jon Lester departed following five solid innings of work, the new and improved bullpen took over. The relievers combined for four shutout innings.
“I wrote about Bradley today but I was tempted not to because the bullpen and the way they deployed the bullpen was so impressive that it really intrigued me,” Rosenthal said. “The way they used [Andrew] Bailey for one hitter and then coming back with [Junichi] Tazawa, it showed the depth that they have. Now, it’s against a Yankees lineup that was basically a B lineup from Lakeland, Florida, in mid-March. But, at the same time, they do have weapons out there, and that obviously is a strength of the team and can be a real strength and a very effective strength even if the starters are not as good as we think.”
The last two seasons, the Sox got off to dreadful starts (0-6 in 2011 and 1-5 in 2012), so new manager John Farrell certainly is off to a better start. Rosenthal also discussed the improvements that the club has made, trying to focus on the clubhouse chemistry.
“Last year, obviously they had a lot of issues,” Rosenthal said. “I would have liked to have seen that team with John Farrell or Terry Francona as manager and see if we thought they were such bad guys. The problem to me was not the players. The problem was much more so [Bobby] Valentine and the mood that he set with that club. That said, there were some guys that perhaps could have been shinier lights, but no one thought of Carl Crawford as a bad guy in Tampa. No one thought of Adrian Gonzalez as a bad guy in San Diego, though very few people were paying attention. To me, the real issue is performance. If you have performance, then the rest will come.”
Only three players in Monday’s starting nine were in last season’s Opening Day lineup. One player who was missing Monday was David Ortiz, who has been working his way back from a heel injury.
“Yes, offense is down, but they need Ortiz back and this is why he’s so important to them,” Rosenthal said. “Their offense without him is not a slugging-type offense, for sure. While yesterday was quite effective, I don’t know that you’re going to see that all of the time. So, ultimately, let’s say that they’re in it and let’s say Ortiz comes back. You can go find somebody perhaps at the deadline, but you’re right, their offense is a concern to me.”
On comparing the Jays and Rays: “You have to see it on the field. I love the Jays’ talent. I love [Jose] Reyes. I like what they’ve done with their rotation. … Even Melkey Cabrera had a good spring. But, at the same time, you’re slopping together a lot of talent, you’re bringing in a new manager, and it’s just something that might take a little while before they jell, and they may not jell at all. The Rays, on the other hand, we know they’re going to pitch. They’ve got [Evan] Longoria back for a full season, and they just will find a way to at least compete and that’s why I picked them first. But I’m like most people, I see the division ending up in any number of ways.”
On Twins prospect Aaron Hicks: “Actually, it was interesting. Scouts and players in spring training were saying they liked Hicks even better than Bradley. I think the reason for that is, as a physical specimen, Hicks is maybe more impressive and he had a huge spring as well. But, Bradley could be there, we’ll see. … With Bradley, the thing is, it wasn’t just yesterday, it was the whole spring. There is, as we’ve discussed before, a maturity to him that you don’t often see in young players. The other thing about him that is kind of cool, the older players like him. They like him because he’s quiet, he’s respectful, he listens.”
On Stephen Drew: “They didn’t sign him to bench him, and they didn’t sign him with the intention that [Jose] Iglesias would be the guy this year. So, I would say that once Drew is healthy, he’ll be the guy. But at the same time, if Iglesias can develop a little bit offensively, he doesn’t have to be Troy Tulowitzki. But if he can become a useful offensive part, certainly next year, and down the line you have interesting decisions. Obviously [Xander] Bogaerts is coming into the picture as well.”
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