Red Sox look for Jackie Bradley Jr. to ‘build some momentum’ down in Pawtucket
|08.19.14 at 9:06 pm ET|
Despite hitting at a productive .308 (4-for-13) clip over his last four games with Boston, the Red Sox had evidently seen enough of Jackie Bradley Jr. at the major-league level.
Boston optioned Bradley down to Triple-A Pawtucket prior to Monday’s game against the Angels – the final stage in a long series of evaluations that general manager Ben Cherington and the rest of Red Sox management went through to determine Bradley’s standing as a big-league hitter.
“With Jackie, I think we had gone through several phases through the year,” Cherington said. “Obviously it looked like, before the All-Star break, that there were some things that were starting to take hold and some momentum, so we certainly hoped and expected that might continue after the All-Star break, and he started to struggle again. I think as we got past the deadline and as the direction of the team changed, I think we started about how do we give him the best chance to build some momentum going into the offseason knowing that he’s a really important guy for us going forward.”
Bradley already emerged as a Gold Glove candidate in his rookie campaign, leading all major-league outfielders in assists (13) while seemingly tracking down every fly ball hit near him out in center field.
However, Bradley’s great defensive play could not carry over to when he stepped up to the plate. At the time of his demotion, Bradley was hitting just .216 with a .288 OBP and .290 slugging percentage this season. The 24-year-old was on pace to register the lowest batting average from an American League starting center fielder since Mike Cameron hit .210 in 1998.
“Certainly there’s no questions about the defense, so it was really more focused on the offense,” Cherington said. “We just got the point where we felt like … it would be best for him to get a bunch of at-bats in Pawtucket and try to lock into a routine that works for him – that he can feel good about.”
Cherington made it a point to mention that this will likely not be the last that anyone sees of Bradley at Fenway this season, as the club will not need to use one of their two remaining options on him if he’s called up when rosters expand in September.
“We fully expect him to be back in September, but then to be able to go into the offseason feeling like he has a good, solid routine plan in place to build off of in 2015,” Cherington said.
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