As spring training winds down, the Boston Red Sox have some decisions to make regarding their 25-man roster. One of those decisions will involve rookie Jackie Bradley Jr.
Bradley Jr. is batting .444 this spring in 55 plate appearances. He leads the team with 20 hits and a stellar OPS of 1.123. The 22-year old has also shown impressive patience at the plate, with eight walks to just five strikeouts.
On Thursday, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington discussed Bradley Jr.’s chances of breaking camp with the big league club.
“It’s hard to ignore what he’s done this spring,” said Cherington. “Every step in a player’s career is another step. We knew he was a good player coming off last year. We knew he was going to get his first experience in a big league camp this year. Until it happens, we don’t know how it’s going to go. It’s hard to ignore what he’s done. Every time something like that happens, it’s a next step, and it’s one less thing he has to prove. It’s been fun to watch. There’s a number of young guys who have looked good this spring. It’s been very encouraging from that standpoint.
“There’s all sorts of factors to consider. But the simplest ones are probably the most important, and those are: Is there an everyday role? Is the player really ready for it? And what’s our best team? If we use that to guide us, we’ll more often than not make the right decision. We have to see how it plays out. Yeah, there are other factors, but those that I mentioned are the most important.”
The Red Sox are expected to make a final decision on Bradley Jr. sometime during the middle of next week. One factor playing in the youngster’s favor is the fact that slugger David Ortiz will not be ready for opening day. This means that the Red Sox could move left fielder Jonny Gomes into Ortiz’ designated hitter spot and use Bradley Jr. in the outfield. A move such as this would not only give the rookie the playing time that Cherington allude d to, but it will also greatly improve the Red Sox defensively.
(JM Catellier is the author of the book Fixing Baseball, a guide to restructuring the Hall of Fame. Follow him on Twitter: @FixingBaseball and Facebook, and check out his site: www.fixingbaseball.com)