Ben Cherington: Jackie Bradley Jr. ‘the right guy to be our center fielder’
|06.10.14 at 7:38 pm ET|
BALTIMORE — The tandem of Jackie Bradley Jr. and Grady Sizemore has left the Sox at the bottom of the American League in center field offensive production. Sox center fielders entered Tuesday at the bottom of the league in average (.190), OBP (.285) and slugging mark (.287).
Yet GM Ben Cherington suggested that the struggles of Bradley and Sizemore should not be lumped together simply because they’ve both contributed to offensive struggles at one position. And he made clear that he views Bradley as “the right guy to be our center fielder.”
“You’re talking about two very different players there so in Jackie’s case, he’s playing really good defense, he’s grinding, he’s making offensive adjustments. He’s here working every day to get better. He’s a very important guy for us and we feel he’s the right guy to be our center fielder,” said Cherington. “In Grady’s case, we’ve seen flashes, as I said 10 days ago. I think he would tell you he hasn’t been as consistent as he’d like to be. Hasn’t made the impact as he’d like to. Look, we’re all in this together, we know collectively we’ve got to get better. We all have to perform better, that starts with me. And we just have to make that happen. We’re not ready to proclaim that this has to happen or that has to happen or there needs to be any particular move. We just have to play better.’
As to whether he might consider moving on from Sizemore, who entered Tuesday hitting .218 with a .286 OBP and .328 slugging mark, Cherington said, “He’s here. He’s one of our 25 guys. [Manager John Farrell is] trying to put him in positions to succeed. We believe Grady Sizemore is going to be a good major league player again. We’re going to do whatever we can to help him be that guy here. We’ll see. We just have to play better, the whole team has to play better. I have to do my part. If we all do that, we’ll look up and things will look a lot better 10 days from now.”
Of course, the Sox’ struggles have gone beyond center field. Cherington was asked whether he could identify the core members of the team’s outfield, a group that has combined to hit .224 (14th among the 15 American League teams) with a .297 OBP (14th), .331 slugging mark (15th) and 10 homers (14th).
“It’s still evolving,” he said. “We came into the year obviously thinking in left field we were going to have something analogous to last year, a combination with [Jonny] Gomes and [Daniel] Nava or some other left-handed hitter. In right field we certainly expected [Shane] Victorino out there, we hope that he will be out there soon. And in spring training the question was on center field and ultimately Grady played his way onto the team and then we had an injury so Jackie ended up on the team and his defense was so good that he kind of takes over.
“Look we expected Jackie to be our center fielder of the future back this winter, we just didn’t know what date that was going to start on. I don’t think anything has really changed there. We just haven’t had that corner group out there consistently and we haven’t had the production out of the corners that we thought we would and need to have.”
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