|It looks like Jackie Bradley Jr. is on target to be Red Sox’ center fielder||11.25.15 at 9:08 am ET|
There’s still a long way to go in this offseason, but the plan right now appears to have Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field for the Red Sox.
Speaking on the Hot Stove Show Tuesday night, Red Sox manager John Farrell said that if the offensive production from all three outfielders were at an acceptable level, the team would be putting Mookie Betts in right field, Bradley in center and Rusney Castillo in left field.
“I think if you were to just prioritize the defense, Jackie is the best defensive outfielder we have. That’s clear,” Farrell said. “Whether it’s the naked eye, or whether it’s to any kind of measurement you want to put to it, Jackie is the best defender we have. So you could say an alignment would have Jackie in center, Mookie in right and Rusney in left. Who else we add to the outfielder core to give us some balance coming off the bench remains to be seen. But the one thing that Jackie did, particularly in August, is that he swung the bat like we were hopeful of. It was an outstanding month. And I think the key for Jackie is going to be: Hit enough to be an everyday player, and then here’s an everyday center fielder.
“The one thing I will say is that we will continue to strive to get the most consistent defensive team up the middle that we can be. If you combine some of the offensive contributions to this, Mookie had an outstanding year offensively. He’s earned that everyday spot. This is something we’ll go into spring training, we’re going to take a look at both guys in center field and we know what they can do. It is going to come down to who plays and who produces offensively that we’ll give the most reps in center field.”
Betts had been the team’s primary center fielder, having played a team-leading 133 games at the position in 2015 before manning right for 11 games.
Bradley, considered one of the best defenders in the major leagues, forced his way into the conversation with a standout offensive performance throughout most of August. From Aug. 7 until Sept. 7, the outfielder hit .422 with a 1.358 OPS over 27 games.
|Closing Time: Jackie Bradley’s bat awakens in time to lead Red Sox comeback||09.19.15 at 9:16 pm ET|
It wasn’t just the fact that the Red Sox managed to score five runs in the ninth inning on the way to a come-from-behind 7-6 win over the first-place Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. And the fact that it marked the first time in 74 occasions that Toronto lost a game when heading into the ninth inning with the lead.
It was how and where the Red Sox notched the win that should have made this one stand out.
Perhaps the most notable aspect of the Sox comeback was that a big chunk of it came courtesy the struggling Jackie Bradley Jr.
Bradley Jr. had entered his seventh inning at-bat in an 0-for-21 slump, having claimed just one hit in his last 32 at-bats. But the outfielder managed to jump-start his game with a game-tying double in the seventh.
And then, after the Blue Jays reclaimed the lead against reliever Noe Ramirez in the eighth inning, it was Bradley Jr. who tied the game again with a two-run blast off of Toronto closer Roberto Osuna.
“It showed signs of maturity that he can put that behind him despite the tough circumstances,” interim Red Sox manager Torey Lovullo told reporters. “I know it was a big day for him and he’s very excited.”
“That double helped a lot,” Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts told reporters regarding Bradley Jr., who has seen 24 of his last 33 hits go for extra bases. “It got that confidence back, and then he went back to the hitter he is.”
It wasn’t just Bradley Jr. who supplied a healthy dose of optimism for the Red Sox heading into their series finale Sunday.
One out after the Bradley Jr. homer, Dustin Pedroia drew a walk to force Osuna from the game and bring on Aaron Sanchez. After Bogaerts greeted Sanchez with a single, David Ortiz gave the visitors the lead for good with his go-ahead, RBI base-hit.
The Sox added two more runs to complete the five-run frame when Bogaerts scored on a wild pitch, and Rusney Castillo plated the Sox’ final score with a run-scoring single.
Robbie Ross Jr. ran into some trouble in trying to close things out, giving up a two-out walk to Josh Donaldson and two-run homer off the bat of Jose Bautista to allow the Jays to draw within a run. And when Matt Hague doubled, things got even more interesting.
But Ross Jr. would ultimately finish things off, getting Justin Smoak to end the threat and the game while cutting the Blue Jays lead over the Yankees to 3 1/2 games.
Considering the environment — another sell-out Rogeres Centre crowd — and what was at stake for the team they were going up against, the early evening was a memorable one for a Red Sox club searching for a 2016 identity.
“This is what it’s all about, playoff baseball and playoff atmosphere and I’m happy we won the game,” Lovullo told reporters.
Red Sox starter Wade Miley received a no-decision, allowing two runs on three hits and five walks over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out seven while throwing 113 pitches.
Bogaerts also helped highlight the Red Sox offense, hitting the visitors’ other home run. He joined Bradley Jr., Travis Shaw and Brock Holt as the only Sox hitters to claim multiple-hit games.
|Red Sox Notebook: Dustin Pedroia is back, admits, ‘Last time, I don’t know if I was ready’||09.08.15 at 6:04 pm ET|
Pedroia, 32, missed 16 games with the same injury from June 25 through July 16, returning for just five games before re-aggravating the hamstring. Finally, with 25 games left in the season, Pedroia is ready to play and will be in the starting lineup against the Blue Jays on Tuesday.
“[I’m] really excited to have him back in the lineup,” said interim manager Torey Lovullo. “It’s been a long road for him. He’s been champing at the bit for a few days, which is a good sign. We were holding him back. He has worked so hard behind the scenes to make this day happen. I’m just really happy for him, happy for the Boston Red Sox, happy for the opportunity that he’s going to give us to watch him play.”
Pedroia has played in 75 games this season, slashing .287/.348/.426 with nine homers and 15 doubles before hitting the disabled list.
“It’s frustrating,” said Pedroia. “It happens, you’ve got to learn from it and come back better. I feel strong. I’m not worried about getting through the game this time, I’m worried about trying to play good. The last time I felt I was trying to do something here and there to help us win, I didn’t feel strong. I don’t know if I was ready. But, you turn the page on that, learn from it, and that’s where we’re at today. I worked real hard with a lot of different people to get to this point and decided to move forward and play with these guys.”
Lovullo denied that the Red Sox pushed Pedroia back too soon in July before the re-aggravation.
“He was being a typical athlete that was put in a situation where he could go out and play,” Lovullo said. “[He was] probably not at 100 percent. And he understood the ramifications of that, but he wanted to play. He wasn’t forced to play, I want to make that perfectly clear. But we could quickly see that things weren’t right through that Anaheim series, and that’s when we had to pull back and make sure that he was doing the best thing for Dustin Pedroia at that point.”
|Adhering to work ethic has helped Jackie Bradley Jr. break through in past month||09.06.15 at 11:48 pm ET|
A month ago, Jackie Bradley Jr. was batting .102 on the season with just one extra-base hit of five total hits, a home run, four RBIs, seven walks and 15 strikeouts. He was 0 for his last 14 and just 1 for his last 19 since the Red Sox called him up from Pawtucket on July 29.
On Aug. 6, Bradley’s season took a significant turn.
As the Sox faced off against the Yankees in New York that Thursday night, the outfielder recorded his first hit in six games, a single to center field in seventh inning, and drew two walks. Only one run crossed the plate for Boston that night, not enough for a win, but from there Bradley got hot fast.
He tacked on another single the following night and, after going hitless in the next contest, rode a six-game hit streak into the middle of August. Within that streak was a 5-for-6, two-home run night in which his seven RBIs accounted for nearly a third of the Red Sox offense in a 22-10 victory over the Mariners.
“It’s been a pretty solid month,” Bradley said. “Just being able to help the team out any way I can and just trying to get better every single day, continuously working and kind of just staying the same person I’ve always been.”
Four of the games yielded multi-hit efforts from the 25-year-old, and of the 14 hits he collected in those six games, 10 were for extra bases. He also raised his batting average by .090 just in that span.
But Bradley’s success continued long after his streak was snapped. Continuing to find his footing offensively really for the first time in his major league career, he’s raised his slash line from .102/.220/.163 to .292/.369/.591 overall in a matter of 27 games. He bolstered his prior stats in other departments too, adding 28 RBIs for a total of 32 and drove 22 of his 35 hits for extra bases.
Of his most recent 26 hits, 19 of them were of the extra-base variety, and in the last 24 games alone, dating back to the beginning of that streak on Aug. 9, Bradley is slashing .418/.465/.899 with 12 doubles, four triples six home runs and seven walks. He’s also in the midst of a seven-game hit streak and has scored at least one run in each of those games as well, going 11-for-22 with a .955 slugging percentage in that time.
|Red Sox pregame notes: Hanley Ramirez placed on 15-day DL||09.05.15 at 3:31 pm ET|
The move is a little surprising, considering 25-man active rosters have expanded to the full 40 in September, but president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said that having him unavailable removes the temptation to put him back on the field before he’s ready.
And while Ramirez said he’s disappointed, he’s “100 percent” in agreement with the decision and knows he has to get ready before he can come back. Interim manager Torey Lovullo added that there was no push-back from Ramirez regarding the situation.
Ramirez is also confident he will be back on the field before year’s end.
“Oh yeah, you’re going to see me at first base before the season’s over so don’t worry about that,” he said.
However, Dombrowski and Lovullo weren’t quite as quick to give Ramirez’s return the definite go-ahead.
“I’m hopeful, and the doctor seems to think at this point that this will suffice, but I don’t know,” Dombrowski said. “Do I feel confident? I feel good about it, but I wouldn’t sit up here and say 100 percent I know that. But he feels good about it.”
Ramirez said the Sox have a plan in place and want to show him “the way they want to work everything out” going forward.
“We’re really at a point of rehab,” Dombrowski clarified. “And he’s also taken some medication at this point, and he’s not going to hit, and he’s not going to throw until the pain subsides. He can go out on the field and work a little bit with his glove and his footwork, so he can still do that, but we’re not going to do anything with him and that’s why the DL, there’s no temptation, there’s no anything. He’s not going to do that, but we’re not going to get him out there to throw or hit until the pain subsides.”
“I’m just looking forward to being back on the field because the way we’re playing right now is unbelievable,” Ramirez said. “It’s a great feeling when you see those young guys [in the outfield] go out there and the way they’re playing right now.”
|Closing Time: Red Sox offense catches fire late in win over Phillies||09.04.15 at 10:34 pm ET|
Although it took a little while longer than they would have liked, the Red Sox offense finally got to Phillies rookie starter Adam Morgan.
After only scoring one run over the first four innings, the Red Sox scored six runs following the fourth inning, including four in the seventh in their 7-5 win over the Phillies.
Trailing 2-1 going into the bottom of the fifth, the Sox scored twice. The first two men reached and Mookie Betts drove home Ryan Hanigan with an RBI double and then Brock Holt’s sacrifice fly brought home Jackie Bradley Jr.
The Sox then scored four times in the seventh inning, led by Bradley Jr.’s solo homer to dead center. David Ortiz just missed career home run No. 496 as it went for a double off the wall in center field, but it scored a run. Holt also contributed an RBI single in the inning.
Morgan allowed six runs over 6 1/3 innings to take the loss.
The Phillies scored twice in the fourth inning off Red Sox starter Joe Kelly — one run on an RBI groundout and the second on a Darin Ruf RBI single, which would be all they would get.
Although Kelly didn’t have his best stuff, the right-hander went six innings, allowing two runs on five hits, while walking three and striking out five. He’s now won seven straight starts.
The bullpen did its job as they had four relievers combine for two scoreless innings — Alexi Ogando, Tommy Layne, Noe Ramirez and Junichi Tazawa. But that strong effort went almost for not, as Jean Machi allowed a two-run homer and another run in the ninth in a non-save situation. Robbie Ross Jr. needed to come on to get the final out as the tying run was at the plate in Ryan Howard.
Bogaert continued his impressive season, as he finished the game 2-for-4 with two RBIs, which increases his team-leading multi-hit games to 46. Betts went 2-for-3 with a walk to extend his hit streak to 10 games.
|Red Sox lineup: Rusney Castillo debuts in LF, Jackie Bradley Jr. plays RF in series finale with Yankees||09.02.15 at 12:37 pm ET|
On Tuesday interim manager Torey Lovullo said the younger Red Sox outfielders could see time at other spots in the outfield other than their accustomed ones and that will begin Wednesday with Rusney Castillo debuting in left field.
The Yankees and Red Sox each have a chance to take the series, as both have picked up wins in the first two games.
Jackie Bradley Jr. will play right field, while Mookie Betts will stay in center field as the Red Sox go up against right-hander Masahiro Tanaka.
Blake Swihart will catch Red Sox starter Henry Owens.
For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.
Here is a complete Red Sox lineup:
Mookie Betts, CF
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
David Ortiz, DH
Travis Shaw, 1B
Rusney Castillo, LF
Brock Holt, 2B
Blake Swihart, C
Jackie Bradley Jr., RF
Henry Owens, LHP
|Closing Time: Despite strong performances from Jackie Bradley Jr., Rick Porcello, Red Sox fall to Yankees||09.01.15 at 9:53 pm ET|
With the Red Sox leading 1-0, two outs and a runner on first in the fifth, first baseman Travis Shaw couldn’t handle a routine Didi Gregorius grounder, and it went into right field, setting up second and third with two outs.
Brett Gardner hit a solo homer in the eighth off Porcello for the third Yankees run.
Despite taking the loss, Porcello delivered his second straight great start. The right-hander went eight innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on five hits, while walking a batter and striking out 13. The 13 strikeouts were good for his fourth career double-digit strikeout game and a career-high. Since coming off the disabled list, he’s allowed one earned run in 15 innings.
“Overall, he’s been great since he’s returned,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “He’s throwing his fastball to both sides of the plate. From where I was in the dugout you could see it had angle. I know there were a number of called strikeouts, and that just shows you how locked in he is. He’s hitting spots with a little bit of movement and deception.”
|Red Sox pregame notes: Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo being exposed to other OF spots; Allen Craig’s new role||at 5:32 pm ET|
With the news that Hanley Ramirez won’t play the outfield again in 2015, it opens the door for the younger Red Sox outfielders to get exposure at other outfield positions as the team looks to find the best alignment possible for 2016.
Mookie Betts has just played center field, so he will get some work at left and right field. Rusney Castillo has played center and right field so he will get some work in left field, while Jackie Bradley Jr. has already played all three.
After sitting down with all three, it was determined the work will take place pregame until outfield coach Arnie Beyeler feels they are ready for game action.
“We’re going to mix and match those moving parts and until that time where we put them in the game they need to get out there with Arnie to get some work done,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “So you’re going to see Mookie getting some reps in left and right in pregame. You’re going to see Rusney gets some reps in left field. Jackie obviously is very good at all three so we’re going to wait for the go sign from Arnie that he feels comfortable with these guys moved in game situations into different positions.
“We’re going to explore that. We haven’t yet clearly defined who is playing where, but once we make that decision we’re going to leave those guys there. We’re not going to mix and match for their entire career. We’re going to try and piece together the best outfield for the Boston Red Sox in 2016.”
While the experimenting will take place during the final month of the year, a final determination on those players’ positions likely won’t come until next spring.
“I think what we’re going to do is we’re going to get a look, put it in our minds, let us see what it looks like to make those conversations go in a good direction,” Lovullo said. “Then you’ll see a little bit more of it in spring training. That’s the initial thought — see a little but more of it in spring training and then once we get moving towards April of 2016 we’re going to try and have that firm up and have it stay put.”
As for if this move means the three players won’t be traded this offeason, Lovullo said that decision is above him.
“That is not in my department,” he said. “I do know I love those three kids out there. I feel very comfortable when they are in the outfield playing the way they are now. That’s above my level determining of they available for a trade or not.”
OTHER RED SOX NOTES
|With Hanley Ramirez at first, Jackie Bradley Jr. getting his big chance||08.26.15 at 12:38 pm ET|
CHICAGO — The sight of Hanley Ramirez working out at first base Tuesday made it official: Jackie Bradley Jr. has found his way back.
Just a few years ago, the outfielder had made such an impression that the entirety of the 2013 spring training seemed to revolve around controlling Bradley’s service time. He was perceived as a no-doubt piece of the Red Sox‘ future.
Flash forward to the end of the 2014 season and the narrative had moved 180 degrees.
Bradley ventured into last offseason riding a 1-for-36 clip with the Red Sox, officially leaving him out of the conversation for part of the solution for ’15.
“Obviously, especially when you know what you’re capable of doing as a ballplayer,” he said when asked about his frustration. “And as a young ballplayer you want to make that impression right away. Sometimes everybody has a different path, and this is just the way my path has gone.”
Now, Bradley Jr. is back in the Red Sox’ outfield of the near future, and the guy they paid $88 million for is forced to find a new position (and seems OK with it).
“I think with me at first, we’re going to have a better team on the field, competing every day,” Ramirez said.
“We’ve got a guy [new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski] out there, he’s trying to put the best pieces on the field,” Ramirez added. “He was like, ‘If you put this guy over here and put this guy in left field, how would the team look?’ And I was thinking about that, too. I was thinking, ‘Yeah, we’re a way better team with me on first and with Jackie and Mookie [Betts] and Casty [Rusney Castillo] on the field.’ Hopefully, we can do it and they can keep doing what they’re doing — playing great outfield and keep hitting, because we’re going to need that.”
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