John Farrell: Jackie Bradley Jr. sent down to ‘maintain adjustments’ at the plate
|08.18.14 at 6:18 pm ET|
The Red Sox had finally seen enough of Jackie Bradley Jr. to know it was time for a change.
The Sox optioned the struggling center fielder to Triple-A Pawtucket Monday in a move that manager John Farrell said had been discussed among baseball operations for about the last two weeks.
While he’s been nothing short of sensational in the outfield this season, Bradley has been a liability offensively. The rookie has hit .216/.288/.290 in 112 games and had recently endured a miserable stretch in which he went 0-for-35 with 18 strikeouts before showing some improvement at the plate over the last few games.
“The move to send Jackie back to Pawtucket has been talked about for a little while now,” Farrell said. “I think it’s important to note that this wasn’t reactionary. Had it been reactionary you might suggest it was going to be done a while ago.
“We felt like some of the adjustments that were being worked on had some evidence inside of given games, but we’re sending him out to maintain some of those adjustments. That is to try to shorten down that swing a little bit more and develop a more distinct two-strike approach.”
Bradley is 5-for-16 with two walks and just four strikeouts in his last five games, which raised questions about the timing of the decision. Farrell said Bradley’s adjustments still weren’t translating to the games consistently enough, and he wanted to take advantage of the final weeks of the minor league season.
Farrell said the team wants Bradley to get back to a “line-drive approach that has got a more defined two-strike approach in addition.”
“As we met after the game yesterday, Jackie understood and he understands the need to increase the consistency,” Farrell said. “The strikeout rate, he acknowledged, while we expected an increase coming to the big leagues, has exceeded his expectations, ours as well, and understands the needs that are in front of him.”
Farrell said he expects Bradley to be back with the Red Sox at some point this season. However, the 24-year-old’s future with the team looks bleak.
Farrell noted the depth the Sox have in the outfield with the addition Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig at the trade deadline, as well as the imminent return of Shane Victorino next season. Those three could make up the starting outfield in 2015.
That’s where these adjustments are important for Bradley. Farrell said the Sox “don’t view him as an extra outfielder,” so his window in Boston could very well be closing, especially if Mookie Betts, who was called up in Bradley’s place, proves to be a more serviceable option.
“We need to regain some consistency through the minor league level and the performance history that’s there,” Farrell said of Bradley. “We’re doing what we can to get back to that.”
Ross, Craig on track for return
Farrell said catcher David Ross, who has been out since Aug. 2 with a plantar fascia tear, will be evaluated on Monday before the team determines when he’ll be activated, which could come as soon as Tuesday.
“Today we’ll have pretty much everything to determine that,” Farrell said. “He’s got a couple of bullpens he’s catching today, he’ll throw to the bases once again, he’ll do some running. How he comes out of today’s work will impact his activation.”
Allen Craig begins his rehab with Pawtucket Monday night. Farrell said the outfielder, who tweaked his ankle in his Red Sox debut Aug. 1, will DH for the PawSox Monday night and will likely play in the outfield Wednesday and Thursday.
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