ANAHEIM, Calif -- Two super plays in two innings -- including a spectacular one that may have saved the game in the ninth inning -- on Friday night weren't enough to get Jackie Bradley Jr. into the lineup the following day.
For the fourth time in the five games played on this road trip, Bradley was out of the lineup as the Red Sox focus with him on some early work to break out of an offensive dip that has him hitless in his last 27 at-bats and his average down to .214. from .233 just two weeks ago.
But sitting on the bench isn't what the Sox intend for Bradley over the final seven weeks of the season. Once the work is done, he'll play more often, vowed John Farrell.
"We trust that through some of the early work that that will carry over on the field,'' said Farrell. "We feel like there's a better hitter in there from a consistency standpoint. Whatever the average ultimately becomes, time will tell. But the way he swung the bat coming into the All-Star break, we really felt like he was turning the corner.
"We want to allow that early work to take over and then we'll begin to get him into a starting role here for us.''
There's no denying his defensive brilliance. In the eighth inning Friday, he raced in to snare a sinking line drive from Mike Trout. But he saved his best for the ninth, racing back to the center field wall to haul in a long drive from Howie Kendrick.
"His reads off the bat are better than anyone I've ever seen,'' said Farrell. "Seemingly, he's on the move when the ball's in the hitting zone, even before contact is made. There are a lot of other outfielders who are
faster than him in the league. And yet, I think he's probably got the most range of anyone in the game. And it's because of the instincts.''
In order to better evaluate Bradley and how -- or if -- he fits into the Red Sox future plans, the Red Sox "need (his playing time) to increase'' said Farrell.
"And yet there's a stretch of time here where we're addressing some things,'' said Farrell. "He's aware of the approach that we're taking. We sat down and met with him (Friday) on what the thought is. We don't want him to be questioning his abilities or where he stands. We're emphasizing the need for the early work to make some adjustments.''
* Allen Craig rejoined the team after visiting with Dr. Thomas Anderson in Charlotte Friday. Anderson is a preminent foot and ankle specialist who worked with Craig last year when he battled a nagging foot injury for the final two months of the season.
"We'll begin more baseball activities,'' said Farrell. "He'll start swinging the bat in the cage off a tee, some soft toss. He'll start with some less-than-full weight-bearing work on the treadmill, just to begin that basic foundation work before we get him to full activity on the field.''
* Daniel Butler, 27, is poised to make his major league debut Sunday with a start behind the plate.
"We felt coming into spring training, if the need were to arise, he'd be a guy we'd call upon,'' said Farrell. "He's always shown either in those settings in spring training or the reports coming out of Triple A the last couple of years that he's more than capable of handling a big league staff, running a big league game. He'll get that first opportunity tomorrow.''
Butler hit 14 homers and slugged .479 at Pawtucket last year, but those numbers dipped this season, with Butler hitting only four homers in 76 games at Triple A, with a slugging percentage of .338.
"He's always been best-suited against lefthanded pitching,'' offered Farrell. "We did have a three-catcher rotation so some inconsistency because (fewer) at-bats could have been part of that. But there was nothing fundamentally that was suggested.''
Butler was undrafted out of college and has spent five years in the minor leagues waiting for this opportunity.
"It just shows you that not only can players be missed with the evaluation of talent or tools,'' said Farrell, "but you never know what's truly inside a guy -- the determination, the work ethic, the willingness to compete. He's demonstrated that each and every year. You never fully know what a guy's work ethic is going to allow him to advance to.
"And at the position he's at, sometimes you've got attrition on your side. Durability, intelligence behind the plate -- those are all intangibles that start to play out the higher you go.''