Bradley Jr.'s struggles finally force him to Pawtucket

Bradley Jr.'s struggles finally force him to Pawtucket
August 18, 2014, 5:00 pm
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BOSTON - The clock has finally struck "Pawtucket" for Jackie Bradley Jr.

The Red Sox center fielder has been optioned down to the PawSox after a season of struggles at the plate. Taking his place on the roster and on the field is Mookie Betts.

Bradley Jr., who is hitting just .216 on the year with an OBP of .288 and slugging percentage of .290, was given plenty of chances to right his wrongs regarding his swing, but manager John Farrell and the rest of the staff felt that not enough progress was being made at the Major League level.

"The move to send Jackie back to Pawtucket has been talked about for a little while now," Farrell said. "So I think it's important to note that this wasn't reactionary. Had it been reactionary you might suggest it was to be done a while ago. We felt like some of the adjustments that were being worked on had some evidence inside a given game, but we're sending him out to maintain some of those adjustments and that is to try to shorten down that swing a little bit more and have a more distinct two-strike approach."

Bradley Jr. recently snapped a horrid 0-for-35 slump and has hit safely in four of the past five games, but that wasn't enough to warrant his stay in Boston. Farrell hoped to see a bit more, as he and his staff had been discussing this move since shortly before the last road trip.

"Well, we wanted some of that work to see if it had a chance to play out here," Farrell said, "and felt like right now it was an opportunity to try to take advantage of the remaining three weeks of the minor league season. Hopefully to gain some confidence and momentum when he comes back here. So that's the reason for now."

Bradley Jr. has 111 strikeouts in 348 at-bats this season, a number far too high for somebody who doesn't hit for power. In fact, Bradley ranks tied for 25th in the majors in strikeouts this season, but he's the only player within the top 49 that has less than five home runs. He has just one home run this season. Within those same 49 players, his 30 RBI is tied for second-least (along with B.J. Upton and Xander Bogaerts; Junior Lake has the least with 25 but only 291 at-bats).

"As we met after the game yesterday, Jackie understood [the move]," Farrell said. "He understands the need to increase the consistency and the strikeout rate he acknowledged. While we anticipated an increase [in strikeouts] coming to the big leagues, it's exceeded I think his expectations, ours as well, and understands the needs that are in front of him."

Yes, Bradley Jr. is one of the best defensive outfielders in the game, but that just goes to show how poor he's been at the plate for the team to go ahead and make the move anyways.

Perhaps a little change of pace down in Pawtucket can get Bradley Jr. back on the right track, and eventually back in Boston before the season ends. It certainly can't hurt to try.