Bradley, Jr. making presence felt in Sox minor league system

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Bradley, Jr. making presence felt in Sox minor league system

Jackie Bradley, Jr. has not appeared in a Carolina League game since June 17, earning a promotion from High-A Salem to Double-A Portland. But his imprint is still felt around the league. His .359 average in 67 games is still in the leagues No. 1 spot. He had enough plate appearances to keep him on the leaderboard through Salems 112th game.

But, Bradley will disappear from the leaderboard after that, early next week. His effects are now being felt in the Eastern League, just as they are expected to be felt in the Red Sox organization well into the future.

He adds a spark to your club, said Portland manager Kevin Boles. Hes bright and hes terrific in the clubhouse. Obviously the natural ability, the athleticism that he has is above-average and hes a guy that shows a lot of instincts, thats aggressive to the game. Theres no fear in his approach. I think that for most guys theres usually an adjustment period when they come to a new level. But from Day 1 hes just attacked the Eastern League. Hes been terrific with how hes handled it.

With Portland, Bradley, has hit safely in 29 of 41 starts and has reached base in 33 (entering Thursday). He entered Wednesday leading all Sox minor leaguers with .332 average, going 130-for-391, and 40 doubles between Salem and Portland, with seven home runs and 53 RBI.

He hit the ball hard, said one scout who has seen Bradley about 10 times this season. Hes a really good two-strike hitter. Hes not afraid of waiting for two strikes. Hes very patient. Hes good.

Bradley, the Sox fourth pick in 2011, was selected in the first round (supplemental), the 40th overall pick in the draft, out of the University of South Carolina. His accomplishments this season after playing just 10 professional games last season have garnered a great deal of attention for him.

Hes a guy that has pretty much been under the microscope since hes been around, Boles said. And obviously playing for Team USA in 2010 and playing for a big SEC program hes been well-prepared to handle this type of attention. He just goes about his business, works hard, and hes very humble.

Bradley, a native of Richmond, VA., who turned 22 in April, is just trying to take it all in stride.

Well, Ive just been taking it a day at a time, he said. The attention doesnt really bother me. I know where I come from. Just trying to go about it the right way and in a professional manner, and just keep playing the game hard. Its not going to change my approach or anything. I just play the game the way I know how to.

Appearances to the contrary, Bradley knows its not easy.

Its definitely a grind. Its not easy thats for sure, he said. Just getting used to a whole professional season every day. Coming to the field every day, getting into your own particular routine, and just being able to grind it out when some days you might be tired. Its all part of the process and what youve been training for.

While his offensive numbers are impressive, his defense has been equally so.

Hes real good, said the scout. Hes just an average runner but he looks like hes better than that. Hes not that big a guy listed at 5-feet-10, 180 pounds but he plays bigger than that. Hes got tremendous instincts. He seems to have a crystal ball. He knows where the ball is going to go.

Hes got a good arm. He really gets rid of the ball. Hes going to have a chance to throw guys out, kind of like Josh Reddick. He doesnt have a great arm but he gets to balls quickly so hell have a chance to throw guys out. I think the Red Sox hit the perfect timing with him.

Perfect timing, indeed. Bradley is seen by many as a potential replacement for Jacoby Ellsbury, who can become a free agent after the 2013 season. For his part, Bradley is not trying to put a clock on his major league arrival.

No, not really because its definitely not something I can control, he said. So I cant really put any goals on something I cant control. Just keep playing well and whatever happens, happens. My only goal and expectations is stay healthy for a whole season.

Bradley had trouble staying healthy last season. A wrist injury in April 2011 limited him to just 37 games and a .259 average his final season at South Carolina, followed by 10 total games with Low-A Lowell and Single-A Greenville, where he hit a combined .250. If you follow Bradley on Twitter, you know that Jackie Robinson is a major inspiration to Bradley.

Just the adversity that he went through and the determination, he said. It actually helped push me. Not just for African-Americans but for all athletes to be able to play this game. He was kind of the front-runner who made this possible.

But, it was not the heroic Robinson for whom Bradley is named. It was another American icon.

Actually my Grandma was a big Jackie Wilson fan, Bradley said. So she named my Dad after Jackie Wilson.

Bradley knows there is still work to be done and adjustments to be made at Double-A.

In "A" ball they see a lot more fastballs, Boles said. Here obviously they start to slow the ball down. They can throw it off-speed at any time in the count. This is the league thats a separator league. As far as game management on defense, I think thats something that he has drastically improved on since hes been here. He has a plus arm and he loves to show it off. But its just game containment, making sure you keep the batter-runner off of second base, just not creating errors, trying to throw guys out when theres not opportunities, and understanding what the game is telling you in front of you. And hes starting to be able to slow the game down on defense and really manage the game.

With just over a month left in Portlands season, what would Bradley like to work on?

Everything, he said. Just to improve every aspect of my game.

David Price improves command, indicates he's pitching through ailment

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David Price improves command, indicates he's pitching through ailment

BOSTON — David Price and Rick Porcello showed improvement on back-to-back nights Friday and Saturday, important signs for the Red Sox after a difficult month for both pitchers prior to this homestand.

Price on Saturday night went six innings and allowed three runs, two earned, in a 6-3 loss to the Angels. He fanned five and his velocity has been consistently better this year than last year.

But the most important number was his walk total: one. He walked three batters in his previous start, and four in both of his starts prior.

“Two outings ago, the first start here in Fenway,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “There was better timing in his delivery and overall better separation over the rubber. And he carried that through I thought, even though there's a higher pitch count in Houston, and has been able to maintain it here. I can't say there was one specific thing. It's been more the timing over the rubber. And you're seeing him pitch out of the stretch exclusively. Just less moving parts in a better position to repeat it.”

After Price’s final inning, the telecast captured Price calling pitching coach Carl Willis into the tunnel. Neither Farrell nor Price detailed the conversation. 

“Yeah, everything was fine,” Farrell said of the conversation. “Everything is OK there.”

Price made it sound like he’s dealing with some sort of physical ailment, but was vague.

“There's a lot of stuff going on right now,” the pitcher said when asked about the desire to stay out there. “You don't want it to linger into the next start, or two or three weeks from now, and that's why we did what we did.”

Asked to elaborate, Price reinforced that the decision was to save his body for another day.

“You never want to come out of a game. But you have to look forward at the time,” Price said. “You don’t want today to cost you your next start or you know, the start after that. So that’s what happened.

“It has nothing to do with my elbow or anything like that. This is — you get past one thing and there’s another So that’s what it is.”

Price in New York in early June felt a blister develop on his ring finger. He missed an in-between start bullpen because of it.

Asked about the blister Saturday, Price said, “That one’s gone.”

Farrell indicated the blister was diminished, if not entirely gone.

“He's been dealing with that,” Farrell said. “I think while it's still present and maybe not as severe as it was when it first happened, I'm sure he's going to check on it occasionally."

Red Sox threaten late, but can't come back in 6-3 loss to Angels

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Red Sox threaten late, but can't come back in 6-3 loss to Angels

BOSTON - JC Ramirez rebounded from his shortest career start with six solid innings, Cameron Maybin doubled home a run and scored another and the Los Angeles Angels held off the Boston Red Sox 6-3 on Saturday night.

The Angels look for their fifth series win in their last six on Sunday.

Mitch Moreland hit a solo homer for the Red Sox, who lost for only the third time in their last 13 home games.

Ramirez (7-5) allowed one run and four hits with five strikeouts after lasting just three innings and giving up five runs in his previous start.

Blake Parker struck out pinch-hitter Chris Young with the bases loaded for the final out for his first save of the season after Boston scored twice in the ninth.

Red Sox manager John Farrell was ejected by third-base umpire and crew chief Bill Miller after Fernando Abad was called for a balk, scoring a run that made it 5-1 in the seventh.