Jackie Bradley Jr. is ready for the big leagues again — sort of
|05.24.13 at 10:29 am ET|
PAWTUCKET — Shane Victorino missed his third straight game with a hamstring injury on Thursday, and while the outfielder’s condition is improving and the soreness is subsiding, a DL stint isn’t completely out of the question at this point. If Victorino were to be sidelined for more than a few days, Jackie Bradley Jr. would be the most obvious candidate to be recalled to reinforce the roster, right?
Well, not so fast.
Bradley missed a couple weeks of action with tendinitis in his biceps, but has been swinging a hot bat since returning from the disabled list. The 23-year-old is 6-for-16 (.375) in his first four games since coming off the DL with a double, a triple, and his first Triple-A home run.
But he’s not ready to return to game action on an everyday basis, and a protocol has been designed to ensure that Bradley’s arm is allowed to heal properly. After playing three times in four days, splitting time between the outfield and designated hitter, Bradley took some time off before getting back on the field, sitting out of Tuesday’s game and taking advantage of Pawtucket’s off-day on Wednesday before returning to the lineup with a 2-for-5 performance as the center fielder on Thursday. He’ll also play on Friday, after which PawSox manage Gary DiSarcina said he will be re-evaluated to determine a new protocol going forward.
With there possibly being a need for an outfielder at the major league level, sticking to a laid–out game plan could, understandably, make a player impatient. But Bradley knows that following the protocol is necessary.
“They want the best for me, you kind of do what you’ve got to do to get fully healthy,” says Bradley. “You’re never really going to play at 100 percent during the whole season but you got to make sure you can give 100 percent that day. Them resting me, it’s just a protective measure to make sure I’m all healed up.”
DiSarcina understands the need to get Bradley fully healthy, but is confident that he’d be ready to go if the Red Sox needed him.
“If [John Farrell] called me right now, I’d say hell yeah, play him. Take him, he’s ready,” the manager said prior to Tuesday’s game. “That’s like the tease, you want to pop him out of here and bring him up there, but what do you do after five days if his arm is sore? Is he an option? I think as long as Jackie Bradley is on the roster and able to go out there, he’s an option. This kid can play.”
Bradley struggled in his first major league stint, batting .097/.263/.129 in 12 games before being sent down to Pawtucket. His struggles carried over to Triple-A initially, but the outfielder was heating up before his injury forced him to the disabled list. Bradley was 6-for-12 in three games before missing time, and is batting .322 with a .420 OBP and .458 slugging mark in 15 games with the PawSox. But Bradley knew it was only a matter of time before his bat got going.
“I’m a rhythmic hitter, and when you’re in the rhythm, things go well. Every hitter gets out of rhythm and things aren’t going as well, but it’s how it goes, you just have to fight through it and keep going,” said Bradley.
Bradley will play again Friday night in Louisville, and will be reevaluated afterwards to determine what the next course of action is, and whether or not he’s ready to play on an everyday basis. He’s hitting well enough to be a consideration for the big leagues, but the Sox, suggest DiSarcina, will have to determine whether it’s in his best interests to return based on his health, rather than Victorino’s.
“We’ve got to get him built up — but on his time frame, not on Victorino’s time frame,” said DiSarcina. “If [Farrell] asked me right now, I’m just going to give him a positive evaluation because he’s been pretty good for three days back. I wish everybody could hit like he did after taking two weeks off.”
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