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Red Sox notes: Jackie Bradley Jr. needs a breather; A.J. Pierzynski needs to slide

06.09.14 at 8:32 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — It has been a hard road for Jackie Bradley Jr. The 24-year-old has come as advertised as a game-changing defender, but in the batter’s box, his reputation as a polished hitter who could get on base at a strong rate, post solid averages and make contact with a line drive approach has not been borne out over two-plus months as the Red Sox‘ everyday center fielder.

And so, in the wake of a 3-for-14 stretch that included 10 strikeouts in 16 plate appearances over four games, Red Sox manager John Farrell opted to give the 2011 draftee “a little bit of a breather.” He added that it is “undetermined” whether Bradley gets another day off on Tuesday to recalibrate his offensive approach, at a time when he’s hitting .203 with a .286 OBP and .294 slugging mark while striking out in 30.8 percent of plate appearances, the eighth highest strikeout rate of the 167 major leaguers with a qualifying number of at-bats.

With less territory to prowl in Camden Yards than most other outfields, the Sox felt that it represented a good time to start Grady Sizemore and to have Bradley sit — something he hadn’t done since May 25.

“Jackie’€™s had some challenges of late. He’€™s been working on some things in early [batting practice] with a little bit of a different setup where his hand placement, yet, the strikeouts are probably more than he’€™s ever experienced and maybe more than we’€™ve projected so just a chance to take a little bit of a breather,” said Farrell. “He’€™s tried to create and produce a little bit more of a consistent swing path and yet I think they’€™re might be a tendency when he’€™s facing guys with above average velocity, it’€™s not uncommon, not just for Jackie, but it’€™s not uncommon for hitters to try to combat that velocity with added effort and that can create a little length in the swing at times.’€

 OTHER RED SOX NOTES

– Farrell will have some limited input into the conversation about who makes the All-Star team, but really, the manager of each league has little to say in the process given that most players are chosen by fan and player voting. That said, he expressed enthusiasm for the idea that Koji Uehara, now armed with a 0.68 ERA, 12 saves in as many opportunities and 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings, might secure a spot.

“He’s performed  at such an elite level for not just this year but over a long period. Without looking at the names of guys that would be in that same conversation, in our eyes, he’s certainly an All-Star, but before even saying or suggesting that he’s going to be there in Minnesota, we’re hopeful there’s many more save opportunities between now and the break,” Farrell said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked — multiple innings, tie games. He’s not your quote-unquote classic closer of today. More than three outs. Save situations. He’s a breath of a fresh air, and he’s one hell of a pitcher.”

– Farrell had a terse view of how A.J. Pierzynski can avoid a couple of the baserunning mistakes that he’s made this year around second base.

“You need to slide,” said Farrell.

Will Middlebrooks (finger) and Shane Victorino (hamstring) are still making incremental progress in their returns from the disabled list, with Middlebrooks starting to do some work with a bat but not yet able to throw the ball without discomfort, and Victorino continuing to test his hamstring while sprinting in a straight line. Mike Carp, said Farrell, just began doing rehab work on Monday after a full week in  a boot for his broken foot.

“He’s still, best guesstimate, a couple of weeks of rehab and getting into some light baseball activity,” said Farrell.
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