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Red Sox notes: Taking stock of struggles by Jackie Bradley Jr., Will Middlebrooks

04.15.13 at 11:25 am ET

Jackie Bradley Jr. endured another hitless game on Sunday, going 0-for-3 and thus extending his hitless run to 0-for-17. While the extent of his struggle has come as something of a surprise after his breathtaking spring training, however, the Red Sox did account for the possibility that he might face a challenging offensive transition to the big leagues when they made the decision to add him to the Opening Day roster. And it was in no small part because of the team’s confidence in Bradley’s ability to withstand a challenging introduction to the big leagues with a mature attitude that the team decided that the risks of having him start the year in the big leagues were acceptable.

That being the case, John Farrell was asked, how has he seen Bradley handling this adversity?

“I think as well as can be expected,” said the Red Sox manager. “He’€™s also human and there’€™s some frustration involved with maybe some of the at-bats that he’€™s gone through over the past week. That’€™s, again, we know that those challenges were likely to emerge. If we didn’€™t feel like he had the capacity to respond or handle those, I think, in a stable way, we wouldn’€™t have taken the gamble to bring him with us North. I can’€™t say that anything he’€™s gone through, or his reaction, has been different than we anticipated.’€

Bradley has not been alone in his recent struggles. Since his three-homer game on April 7, Will Middlebrooks is now 2-for-18. However, Farrell suggested that a sacrifice fly to right and a single to center on Sunday against the Rays offered an indication that the 24-year-old may be emerging from his funk.

“When Will is at his best is when he’€™s driving balls into right-center field,” said Farrell. “And prior to going into Toronto, that last night in New York, he drives a ball into deep right-center field and even though it was an out it kind of got him locked in. For any hitter when that front side flies a little bit that’€™s where he begins to pull of the ball. But he’€™s close. [Sunday] with a sac fly and a base hit up the middle, you see that getting back to his approach when he’€™s most effective, and most powerful.”

Farrell also praised Middlebrooks’ defense. The third baseman has yet to make an error this year, showing a good game clock and ability to avoid getting rushed.

“Slow rollers, one-hop smashes down to him ‘€“ he doesn’€™t panic,” said Farrell. “There have been some balls that were scorched to him where it might not be a clean front end of the double play but the ability to regroup and stay under control to record and out ‘€“ he’€™s been very good.”


John Lackey will resume a throwing program on Tuesday. The tightness in his arm that stopped his attempt to play catch last Monday has subsided. Without symptoms, the team is ready to have the right-hander begin building his way back towards  the mound.

David Ortiz, who was scratched due to illness from the Pawtucket lineup on Sunday, is expected to play on Monday night and hit four times.

— April 15 marks the anniversary of Jackie Robinson‘s major league debut in 1947. With it comes the new tradition of every major leaguer honoring the Hall of Famer by wearing his No. 42. Asked to comment on Robinson’s legacy, Farrell discussed the culture of “an accepting environment” in baseball, in which the clubhouse is a social melting pot, something with implications that extended, thanks to Robinson, beyond the confines of a baseball environment.

On a day when thoughts are rightly with Robinson’s legacy, Farrell was asked whether baseball might soon see an openly gay player join its ranks. He suggested that the existence of a “common goal” would supersede questions of sexual orientation.

“I think that goes back to just creating an environment that’€™s accepting,” said Farrell. “There are going to be people of all walks of life. We expect the rights of every individual that walks through that clubhouse the most important thing is that that respect is mutual and that we work toward a common goal and our goal is clearly stated, and that’€™s to win a World Series.”

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