Boston Red Sox

Future looks bright for Sox prospect Bradley, Jr.


Future looks bright for Sox prospect Bradley, Jr.

BOSTON For Jackie Bradley, it was a year of opening some eyes and making his mark. In his first full season, the Red Sox fourth pick in the first round (40th overall) in 2011 out of the University of South Carolina, hit .315 with nine home runs, 63 RBI, a .430 on-base percentage, and a .482 slugging percentage in 128 combined games between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland.

But it was also a season of listening and learning for him.

Just listening to my body, Bradley said Friday morning. Listening to what its telling me and being able to make adjustments daily, whether its during the game or the preparation before the game. I actually developed a routine this year maybe halfway when I was in Portland. I didnt really have a routine. So just developing that and sticking with that is what I learned the most.

Bradley -- who was at Harvard Friday morning, one of 11 Red Sox prospects in the organizations week-long rookie development program did slow down at the end of the season. In his last 10 games, he went 7-for-27, batting .259, with just two extra-base hits.

His focus this season?

Being healthy, he said. Staying healthy once again. Sticking with a routine. Still developing, progressing the way things are supposed. Just trying to make sure winnings a top priority.

But, its the maturity he displayed throughout the past season and paying attention when learning experiences presented themselves that the Red Sox noticed.

Thats a huge thing for him to come in really in his first full season, dominating High A the way he did, pushed his way to Double A, said Ben Crockett, the Sox farm director. But the way he handled it and he gets a lot of attention, as he should, and had previously based on his success in college. I think the way he was able to handle that and go out and take care of his business every day, the passion that he continued to show. You watch him shag in centerfield during batting practice and all the guys joke with him about his power shagging because he takes it really seriously. Hes working on something at all times. The way that he was able to maintain that throughout the year and offseason was pretty impressive.

One of the goals of the mini camp is to help young players prepare for big league life, both on and off the field, and get ready for the rigors of playing in Boston.

I think it isnt necessarily one personality type that can do it, Crockett said. But certainly Jackies comfort and confidence with himself to be who he is. Hes been accountable and I think maybe most importantly hes shown to us in a short period of time despite the performance when he doesnt perform well and the team wins, hes happy. I think that focus on team helps all these guys.

I think thats something that definitely Jackie embodies and a lot of these guys do and thats part of the reason they're here.

As a minor leaguer, though, sometimes that focus on team can be confounding. A young player wants to shine and get noticed, with the hope of earning a promotion.

Yeah, obviously, you arent going to move up if somebody else is doing really good, said Bradley, who turns 23 in April. But you still got to stay within, because it is a team sport. You cant really do it by yourself. Everything has to work together in order to win. And thats pretty much what we want to do. Winning trumps everything. Once everyone gets a better understanding of that, well be able to win.

Bradley appeared in 114 combined games in center field, and one in right, serving as the designated hitter in 12. He posted a combined .973 fielding percentage in center, committing seven errors in 260 chances, with three assists.

With Jacoby Ellsburys impending free agency after this season, Bradley has been tabbed by many observers as the Sox center fielder of the future. While neither he nor the organization has been willing to run with that, he will take an opportunity that is presented.

I see opportunity anyway, he said. Just being able to take advantage of every single opportunity that you get, whatever that may be, Ill make sure Im ready for it.

Bryce Brentz, who earned a late-season promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket last season, and Alex Hassan are also in camp. They represent what could be the Sox outfield of the future.

Yeah, you hope so, Crockett said. I think theres guys that certainly have that potential. There's guys that the three guys here have all the talent to impact. But I think certainly all three have some development still to do and itll be up to them to kind of drive that and up to us to help them get there.

Jackie Bradley Jr. to get MRI after hurting thumb on slide

Jackie Bradley Jr. to get MRI after hurting thumb on slide

CLEVELAND — Jackie Bradley Jr. will head back to Boston on Wednesday morning for an MRI after he hurt his left thumb sliding into home plate in Tuesday’s 9-1 win over the Indians. X-Rays taken after Bradley was removed from the game at Progressive Field were negative.

Bradley was racing home in the seventh inning and went into a feet-first slide angled to the outside of the plate when he hit his hand awkwardly on the ground. Catcher Yan Gomes didn’t get the tag down in time.

“I’m not worried about it, no,” said Bradley, who will return to Cleveland later Wednesday, but is not expected to play right away. “Right now, it feels alright. I guess, as good it can be kind of after the injury. But, I feel like I’ll be alright.”

Bradley, who earlier in the game hit his 14th home run of the season, decided to change his slide at the last minute.

“As I was coming around third, a few steps before home plate I wanted to slide headfirst because I could control it,” Bradley said. “I wasn’t going to slide anywhere near him. I was going to slide headfirst and just have my hand just kind of reach around. But as I was approaching I kind of could see him gather it. He started coming to kind of block off the plate, so I kind of had to redirect my slide. 

“I actually slid feet first, but I also slid to the outside part of the plate, tried to avoid the tag and then slapped my hand at the back of the plate. And as I slapped the back of the plate, his glove kind of got me in the forearm, and my thumb got caught with the ground and kind of bent in all directions I guess.”

Sox manager John Farrell wasn’t pleased with the lane Gomes allowed Bradley.

But it’s hard to see what Gomes did wrong, by the rules, which state “it shall not be considered a violation of [the rule] if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in a legitimate attempt to field the throw.”

Gomes didn’t end up fully blocking the base line and he made what looked like a normal effort to get the ball where it was thrown. 

The initial safe call was challenged by the Indians and was upheld. Farrell was going to ask the umpires to look at a different aspect had the call been overturned

“He’s got to give a lane, didn’t feel like there was a lane being given at all,” Farrell said. “He had to reach back and unfortunately it puts him in a position where the thumb is exposed.”

Can't rush Carson

Carson Smith isn’t going to be rushed back because of Matt Barnes’ trip to the disabled list. Smith may pitch with just one day of rest in between Triple-A Pawtucket rehab outings this week, but he’s not in a position to race back after so much time missed.

Mookie Betts on his friend Isaiah Thomas: 'He lays it out on the line every day'

Mookie Betts on his friend Isaiah Thomas: 'He lays it out on the line every day'

CLEVELAND — Mookie Betts was taken aback like everyone else when he saw the Celtics landed Kyrie Irving.

“Before the game, we were playing video games, kind of saw it go across the screen,” Betts said. “It was kind of shocking. I didn't think it was going to happen.”

The trade takes one of Betts’ friends out of Boston. He’s gotten to know Isiah Thomas a little bit. They had not spoken as of Tuesday night, but Betts said he expects to see at least a couple of Thomas' games this season.

“Everybody talks about his size and that type of thing, just his heart,” Betts said. “That's the main thing you see, the things that he went through this year as far as his family, he lost a tooth and all of those type of things. He lays it out on the line every day he goes, and he wants to be the best player in the gym and he shows it. That's what you'll miss as far as a big star leaving.”

They’re not best friends, but had gotten to know each other a little.

“When I talked to him, I got a chance to pick his brain and use it for myself,” Betts said.

As for how Irving will do in his new digs?

“I think he'll be fine, especially with Brad Stevens,” Betts said.