Over the last seven years, Boston Red Sox fans became extremely accustomed to Jacoby Ellsbury manning center field. He made some incredible, acrobatic catches and was a serious threat on the basepaths. He was a force to be reckoned with at the top of the lineup. However, that is now a thing of the past since he has moved to the New York Yankees, leaving the position open for two potential candidates. One of those candidates is Jackie Bradley, Jr.
Bradley is a lot of fun to watch because his baseball instincts are so amazing. In the very brief period of times that Red Sox fans got to see him, he made some difficult catches look easy simply because he got such an incredible read as soon as the ball was hit. He also started to show better and better plate discipline as the season went on.
Bradley seems to be really mature beyond his years. He seemed to sense that, just because Ellsbury left, that doesn’t mean that he is going to be handed the centerfield position. Reportedly, he was at Fort Myers weeks before he was due to show up and when Boston signed Grady Sizemore, he continued to work extremely hard and not show any sort of jealousy and insecurity.
On a personal note, I do like the fact that Boston has a homegrown African-American player who will be in the starting lineup. There is a noticeable lack of African-Americans players, and I think it will be good for kids to see the sport becoming more diverse with a player like Bradley playing every day. He could be a very positive role model.
That’s not to say that Bradley is entitled to anything. I just don’t see Grady Sizemore back in the starting lineup after missing two years. If Boston is going to keep Sizemore, he may be much better suited as a fourth outfielder, at least this year. Bradley showed last year that he is ready and it seems he will only get better.
We could be looking at two rookies in the starting lineup this year. It may not be like the season of Fred Lynn and Jim Rice, but they should easily hold their own.