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Red Sox exploring outfield trade market

05.27.14 at 9:54 am ET
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ATLANTA — According to an industry source, the Red Sox continue to explore the outfield trade market, particularly possible center field help that might be able to take some of the pressure off of Jackie Bradley. No deal appears imminent.

One name that has been surfaced, the Dodgers’ Andre Ethier, has not drawn interest from Red Sox, according to the source. Ethier has three years, $53.5 million left on his deal after 2014 and has been used primarily against right-handed pitching.

When meeting with the media Monday, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington explained the difficulty of executing deals this time of year.

“It’€™s a little bit early to think about trades because teams are not really of that mindset yet,” he said. “This is usually the point in the season where teams know who they are, what their limitations are but aren’€™t necessarily jumping out to make trades either. I think our focus right now mostly is to try help the guys who are here to get better, perform better, think about different ways to align a roster where John [Farrell] and staff have the best rosters possible. And again get back to this simple notion of each of us trying to do our jobs a little bit better. If that happens there’€™s enough talent here to get better.”

Bradley has struggled at the plate, hitting .193 while striking out 49 times in 46 games. He did, however, drive in the first run in the Red Sox’ 8-6 win over the Braves Monday with a sacrifice fly, while playing an important role defensively in Turner Field’s roomy outfield.

“Here’s a guy, you have to go on track record and what you’re seeing,” said Cherington of Bradley. “There’s a very strong track record there. This guy has been a good offensive player wherever he’s ever been. We’re seeing things in his at-bats that show us that he’s making progress. No one wants to perform like he has. He knows that’s got to happen at some point. He can help the team every day with his defense, as long as the arrow is pointing in the right direction, and we believe it is, then he’s our center fielder and we’ve got to support him and we know this guy’s going to be a good player in the majors for a long time. He’s not the first guy to have a transition early in his career. It just so happens that because the team’s not doing now, there’s inevitably going to be focus on that.”

Another outfielder the Red Sox have been trying to gauge is Grady Sizemore, who also contributed to the Red Sox’ Memorial Day win, ripping a triple before scoring on Bradley’s sacrifice fly. He is, however, hitting just .221 with a .291 on-base percentage.

“Well, as I said last week, he’s past the physical question,” explained Cherington regarding Sizemore. “He gets treatment every day. It’s no longer a question of whether he’s able to go out there and play. Granted, he’s been in left field more than center as opposed to early in the season; we see a guy who’s moving around better defensively in my eyes. He’s recognizing pitches. He’s strong. We’re looking at a guy who went a long time without seeing major-league pitching and is maybe in that phase where now he’s just getting used to major-league pitching again. When he gets his pitch, we see him drive it and hit the ball hard. He cares. He’s here every day early. This guy wants to be as good as anyone.”

Cherington also noted that prospect Mookie Betts, who just started playing outfield at Double A Portland last week, would not be considered a major league option any time soon.

“He’s in Double A, he’s doing well, he’s starting to be exposed to the outfield,” the GM said. “I don’t think we’re really at a point in the season to really consider that. I think we’ve got to focus on the guys here. We know the overall performance of the team has to improve. The outfield production is one aspect of that. But there’s a lot of different aspects of it. We’ve got to look at everything. I would say that no, it’s not a consideration right now. He’s where he needs to be.”

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