Bradley starts to catch on at the plate

Bradley starts to catch on at the plate
April 30, 2014, 1:15 am
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BOSTON - In the top of the 8th inning, Matt Joyce crushed a ball to deep center field . . . where Jackie Bradley made the catch.

This was no ordinary fly ball, but sure enough Bradley raced straight back and got there in stride just shy of the warning track. On most nights, this would have been Bradley's big play of the game - a gem in the outfield.

But the Sox centerfielder brought it at the plate Tuesday night too, and played a key role in the Sox 7-4 win over the Rays.

Hitting from the No. 9 spot, Bradley went 2-for-4 with two doubles, two RBI, and run.

His double in the 5th inning moved Will Middlebrooks to third base, where he would later score on a sacrifice fly. His double in the 6th inning with two runners in scoring position turned a 3-1 game into a 5-1 game. It also raised his batting average with runners in scoring position to .423 (11-for-16) this season.

What's been the key for Bradley? Confidence.

"Yeah, I'm definitely gaining more confidence as each day goes on," Bradley said. "I'm getting comfortable and I'm learning pitchers and I'm working. Just trying to get better."

John Farrell points to last series in Toronto where he saw Bradley get things going. And despite Bradley's tough first at-bat Tuesday night - a first-pitch foul out to third - he responded with two big hits after.

"I think the first night up in Toronto," Farrell said, "he gets a couple base hits off [Mark] Buehrle, comes up in a big situation on Sunday, nothing to show for it. And even after the first at-bat, he didn't let at-bat that filter into the second and third at-bat. And I think his defense has given him confidence at this level and that in addition to some base hits the other night has put him in a pretty good place offensively just from a mental standpoint."

And Bradley isn't the only one gaining confidence in himself. His managers and coaches are too. Bradley has appeared in all but two games this season, and has started in most of them.

"It feels good to be in there and be able to help the team win," Bradley said. "Obviously when you're playing every day it feels good to be able to take your lumps and still get back in there and redeem yourself.

"In certain situations they could have brought in certain hitters. Them having confidence in me to at least attempt to get the job done, it gives me a lot of confidence knowing they have confidence in me."