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Red Sox look for Jackie Bradley Jr. to ‘build some momentum’ down in Pawtucket 08.19.14 at 9:06 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

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.

“€œWith 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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John Farrell: Jackie Bradley Jr. sent down to ‘maintain adjustments’ at the plate 08.18.14 at 6:18 pm ET
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The Red Sox had finally seen enough of Jackie Bradley Jr. to know it was time for a change.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

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.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Jackie Bradley Jr. on being sent to minors: ‘I was just disappointed in myself, not necessarily about the move’ at 6:08 pm ET
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PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Even as Jackie Bradley Jr.’s struggles as a rookie assumed historic dimensions, the outfielder had resisted dwelling on whether he might get sent down to Triple-A. After all, he reasoned, there was nothing productive to be gained from doing so, at a time when the most important thing he could try to do was correct course.

And so, when the conversation with manager John Farrell and GM Ben Cherington finally took place following the Red Sox‘ 8-1 loss to the Astros on Sunday, Bradley was caught a bit by surprise. With just two weeks left before rosters expand from 25 to 40 players, Bradley hadn’t anticipated that he would be sent down now, even though (after going 5-for-16 to snap out of an 0-for-35 slump) he was hitting .216 with a .288 OBP and .290 slugging mark in 112 games.

“I didn’€™t know. I was definitely caught off surprise a little bit, especially with it being two weeks left. But you know, move had to be made. I’m down here, getting better,” Bradley said in the PawSox clubhouse. “I’ve got to be accountable for myself and for the season, and I didn’€™t perform at the level that I feel like I’m capable of performing. Like they told me, it’s a performance-based league.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Johnny Damon on MFB: ‘I think [Yoenis] Cespedes is going to tear it up here’ 08.04.14 at 1:31 pm ET
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Former Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon joined Middays with MFB on Monday from the Red Sox Foundation charity golf tournament at Belmont Country Club to discuss the addition of Yoenis Cespedes, Jackie Bradley Jr.‘€™s struggles at the plate and Boston’€™s outlook going forward. To listen to the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Damon, who played in the spacious O.co Coliseum while with the Athletics in 2001, said that Cespedes should thrive in a smaller ballpark such as Fenway.

“It’€™s a very hard ballpark to hit in, especially if you have a whole bunch of night games,” Damon said. “It was the first time that I was playing for another team besides the Royals, and just getting used to a different team, a different division. It made it tough. I think Cespedes is going to tear it up here. It looks like a great trade for both teams right now. I think it’€™s a positive.”

Even though Bradley has been a Gold Glove candidate in center field this season, his stellar play defensively has been negated due to his inability to produce offensively. Damon said that Bradley, whose average has dropped to .218 due to an 0-for-24 hitless streak, will need to make big strides in his approach at the plate in order to hold on to his starting role with the club.

“Well, as you see right now, there’€™s a whole bunch of players who are hitting .220 and .230. … For the Red Sox, your center fielder probably has to go out and hit .270, Damon said. “He’€™s very fast, lay down a couple of bunts every now and then, bring the defense in and then you can start slapping the ball by them, and once you start getting that confidence, you can grow a lot by doing that, but also you can prolong your career.”

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For Jackie Bradley Jr., holes in swing ‘starting to emerge a little bit’ 08.03.14 at 12:10 am ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr. appeared to have it figured out.

After a nightmarish first three months at the plate in which he hit .208/.291/.260, Bradley opened his stance — an old stance he said he felt more comfortable with — and finally got some results. From July 1-22, Bradley hit .378, had six multi-hit games and raised his batting average to a respectable .234.

‘€œThe extra work that he’€™s been doing has been starting to pay off,” Sox manager John Farrell said during that stretch. “He’€™s starting to reproduce a more consistent swing path, using the whole field, particularly the left side of the field as we’€™ve seen in the past.”

Since then, it’s been nothing but struggles for Bradley once again. And Saturday night may have been its low point.

The center fielder went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in a 6-4 loss to the Yankees. He’s now hitless in his last 20 at-bats with 10 strikeouts and no walks since July 24. He’s 3-for-31 in his last nine games.

“Where he did such a good job leading up to the All-Star break with closing down some of those holes, they’re starting to emerge a little bit,” Farrell said after the game. “There’s a little more swing and miss of late and I know he’s on a little bit of a run here where he’s gone without any base hits. So I can’t say that he’s expanding the strike zone or he’s pressing, but he’s missing his pitch and he’s gotten into some favorable counts along the way as well.”

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What did Red Sox do during All-Star break? 07.17.14 at 12:40 am ET
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With Jon Lester and Koji Uehara the lone All-Star representatives in Minnesota for the Red Sox (besides the coaching staff), many members of the team had a chance to relax before the grind of the second half of the season gets underway. Some decided to share their activities on social media.

First baseman Mike Napoli had dinner with some long-time friends in the North End.

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Jackie Bradley Jr. on MFB: Open stance ‘just something I was always accustomed to’ 07.08.14 at 2:27 pm ET
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Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. joined Middays with MFB to talk about his recent string of success both on the field and at the plate. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

After a difficult first few months in the batter’s box, Bradley is hitting .304 with a .360 on-base percentage in his last 14 games. He said the improvements are a result of him opening his stance at the plate.

“For me it’s just comfortable,” Bradley said. “It’s just something I was always accustomed to. That initial switch, I guess, was because I struggled at first. It was more for direction, just get square with the ball, eventually stay on the ball a little longer.

“Besides that, I just wanted to get back to comfort and just doing it the way I knew how to.”

Bradley said at one point in the season he felt lost when it came to his issues at the plate. Since then, things have clearly turned around for him.

“I guess I wasn’t necessarily lost with the whole playing ball, it was more lost as in not getting the results that I wanted to,” he said. “That’s not the results the team wanted me to get, so it was making the adjustment, continuously working at it and basically just grinding through, putting together some quality at-bats and things start to fall.”

Fellow rookie Xander Bogaerts has had his share of difficulties at the plate as well. Bradley said it’s something a player just has to figure out on his own to get his swing back.

“Sometimes you’ve got to just figure it out yourself, not really much talking to do,” he said. “It’s all about finally getting those results and things will straighten themselves out.”

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