Bradley Jr. makes 'huge' play to start double play

Bradley Jr. makes 'huge' play to start double play
June 12, 2014, 11:30 pm
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Lately, there's been plenty of focus on Jackie Bradley Jr's struggles with the bat, bad enough to earn Bradley a seat on the bench Monday and Tuesday in Baltimore.

On Thursday night, Bradley reached base twice with a walk and single and scored two of the Red Sox' runs in a 5-2 win over Cleveland.

But his best contribution came in the field, when he began a critical double play.

In the seventh inning, with Mike Aviles on on first base and one out, Michael Bourn hit a ball to left-center. Bradley initially was fooled and came in on the ball, before quickly reversing himself and dashing for the warning track.

"At first, I thought (Bourn) got jammed,'' said Bradley. "I started breaking in a little bit, then I realized it wasn't going to fall in front of me so I sprinted back. I knew it was going to be another close-to-the-wall type play, but I pretty much counted my steps before going up for it (and making the backhand grab).

"I kind of figured that once you make an initial read and the (baserunner) sees that it's the opposite, I knew Mike was pretty much going to keep going.

So I just made the catch and tried to make a strong throw back to first.''

Bradley's momentum was carrying him away from the infield, but he still managed to reverse himself and get everything he could on the throw back to first.

"I had time for the wall to stop me,'' said Bradley. "But other than that, I just saw where Mike (Aviles) was and just tried to fire it up there, hopefully not with an overthrow.''

Having the athleticism to chase down the ball was impressive enough. But it was the strength (and length) of the throw that really opened some eyes.

"I really pride myself in having a strong arm,'' said Bradley. "I work on it daily and I do a lot of long toss. I'm willing to throw with the best of them.''

Even as he battled to keep his batting average above the .200 mark, Bradley continues to make big plays in the outfield. One hasn't impacted the other, he explained, "because it's two sides of the ball. You've got to be able to separate them. If you're not getting the job done on offense, then you definitely need to be getting it done on defense.''

"That's huge,'' gushed Jon Lester, "especially to make a great throw to first base and double a guy off. That's an unbelievable play. I don't know if you can have a longer throw from that outfield and one-hop (Mike Napoli). That was huge, especially for me, kind of grinding through that inning.

"Jackie's done a great job for us all year in center field, running down balls that, really, nobody should run down and played really good defense for us.''