Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 3/25/13
We’re taught at a young age that hard work is rewarded. Perhaps there should be a disclaimer. Jackie Bradley Jr. added to his impressive spring resume (again) on Monday, and he’s making it harder and harder (again) to defend any decision other than penciling him into the Red Sox’ Opening Day starting lineup. Bradley entered Monday’s game as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning, and he promptly lined a game-tying, two-run single up the middle off Pedro Strop. Then, with the Red Sox trailing 12-9 with two outs in the ninth, Bradley lined a triple over the head of right fielder Conor Jackson. The 2-for-2 performance raised Bradley’s spring average to .444 (24-for-54). His on-base percentage now sits at a remarkable .523, and his OPS is through the roof at 1.190. What’s even more amazing about Bradley’s spring is that the outfielder’s offensive game has never really been considered his bread and butter. The 22-year-old holds a career .311 average and .423 on-base percentage in 138 minor league games spread out over four levels, but it’s his defensive aptitude that has typically been lauded by scouts. Bradley is armed with great instincts, a quick first step and great range in the outfield, all of which put him on the fast track to the majors. After watching Bradley develop even more offensively, though, we’re learning that the track he’s been speeding on is shorter than originally thought. And that’s a testament to the hard work he’s put in and the quick adjustments he’s been able to make. “Even against a left-hander who has decent stuff, he takes a strike, he’s not afraid to hit deep in the count with two strikes and gets a breaking ball middle of the plate,” manager John Farrell told reporters after Monday’s game. “And what was even more impressive I think, is after a day yesterday when some left-handers tied him up a little bit, he came back today against a left-hander with some quality stuff  and put a good swing on the ball.” Bradley has been under a microscope all spring; even more so after a scorching hot start. He’s responded by not only keeping up a head-turning pace, but by also improving. It’s been quite incredible, really, and it’s now hard to envision him starting the season anywhere other than the Bronx, where the major league club opens its season against the Yankees on April 1. The logic behind starting Bradley in the minors makes a lot of sense. Bringing him up on or after April 12 would ensure he’s under team control through 2019, rather than through 2018. Sure, that seems very forward-looking, but Bradley will presumably be in the prime of his career at that point, and the extra year could be valuable. Starting Bradley in the minors is the best course of action for the Red Sox to take when looking through a long-term lens, but admittedly, there is something a bit unsettling about the young outfielder being relegated to the minors for at least 11 days. Bradley has done everything he could possibly do. He’s passed every test. He’s thrived under pressure. And most of all, he’s done it with class and professionalism. Based on what we’re taught growing up, Bradley should be a lock for the Opening Day roster. What we’re not taught in Little League, though, is that baseball is a business. So as unsettling as it is, the debate is still very much alive, through no fault of Bradley’s. Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban defends hack-a-player strategy

Jameis Winston awarded Pepsi NFL rookie of the Year

Trade Rumors: Clippers ‘reluctant’ to deal injured Blake Griffin

Bright future for Minnesota Timberwolves

Eli and Archie Manning say Peyton won’t likely leave Denver if he plays in 2016

NCAA mulls changes to graduate transfer and targeting rules

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Cavs active in NBA trade market, covet Jared Dudley

Roger Goodell expectedly dodges Patriots-related questions at Super Bowl

Baltimore Orioles acquire starting pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne

USC athletic director Pat Haden to retire in June

Report: Browns owner ‘frustrated, emotional’ about Johnny Manziel

Raiders and Texans to play MNF game in Mexico City in 2016

Kirk Cousins says he has ‘very good relationship’ with RG3

Super Bowl 50 ticket prices are insane

Take a moment to appreciate the greatness of Cam Newton

4-Star 2018 quarterback Matt Corral commits to USC

QUIZ: Name every NFL regular season MVP

WATCH: Avery Bradley nails buzzer beater to beat Cavs

WATCH: Jimmy Butler taken to locker room in wheel chair

Klay Thompson's first five years in historical context

WATCH: Cubs' Kris Bryant went swimming with sharks

Sports Authority taking steps to file for bankruptcy

Major League Baseball threatens to disassociate from DraftKings

NFL considering moving Pro Bowl to Australia

Joe Montana warns NFL players about potential long-term damage after retirement

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

Manziel's father fears for QB's life

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker