Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here... highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Bradley, whose play has been the talk of spring training, was in the lineup and in left field, starting at that position for the first time this spring. Noting the big crowd expected on the road and the presence of Cliff Lee on the mound, manager John Farrell said the day would serve as a good test for Bradley. "This,'' said Farrell, "is probably the best environment we could put him in -- on the road, away from our ballpark, going up against a very good pitcher. This will be a good day for him.'' Sure enough, it was. Bradley launched a three-run homer to left off Lee in the second inning, then added a sacrifice fly in the next inning. The afternoon added to Bradley's legend. The homer was Bradley's 22nd hit this spring, a number topped by only three American League players going into games Sunday. "He did a very good job,'' said Farrell of the test against Lee. "You can say all you want about the conditions [a strong wind was blowing out and helped on the homer], but he put a good swing on the ball. I thought he picked a good pitch on the next at-bat for the sac fly.''
CSNNE | HR boosts Bradley Jr.'s bid to make team
I have to admit, I'm very turned around on this whole "Should JBJ start the year in the majors" question, but only for one reason: The question of how it affects his service time hasn't really drawn a consensus. Rob Bradford did a piece last week saying he had changed his mind and that he now thinks Bradley should start in the majors, because they can send him back down when Ortiz comes back and preserve the service time that way. The important thing is he gets 11 days in the minors.
Sean McAdam echoed that sentiment today in a video on CSNNE (see the links below), so I'm inclined to believe that's true.
If so, I agree with Bradford -- keep JBJ with the big club, give him a few weeks in left (or cycling through the outfield) while Papi recuperates, and then send him down to Pawtucket.
If not, I'm with every other smart person I read (like Keith Law, who I trust to be an expert on anything minors-related) and say keep him in Pawtucket to start the year.
The important thing is not that JBJ is playing well -- much of it has been against minor-league players in no-pressure games, after all -- or that the club should be trying to put its best product on the field. The important thing is service time. Baseball's rules are what they are. It's well known -- Theo Epstein tries to remind people every chance he gets -- that free agency yields the least efficient results. You almost always overpay -- handsomely -- for talent on the decline. That's just its nature.
So the longer you can hold onto your own players through their initial deals and arbitration, you have to do it. Don't be confused by people saying the Red Sox owe it to the fans to put an exciting product on the field, or that Bradley is ready. He sure looks it. But that's not the issue. The issue is service time, and delaying Bradley's free agency is the most important thing facing the team right now.
On page 2, the latest on Jacoby Ellsbury's latest injury.
Initially, the Red Sox media relations staff reported Ellsbury had jammed his heel, but the center fielder said following the game that he had rolled his right ankle.
"I was trying to get in and beat the tag and I kind of rolled (the ankle)," Ellsbury said. "I just stepped on the base and rolled it."
Ellsbury went out to play in center field in the top half of the second inning before Bryce Brentz pinch-hit for him in the bottom half. Shane Victorino moved over to center from right and Brentz took Victorino's spot in right the following inning.
"It just got real tight, but it's nothing of a concern," Ellsbury said.
ESPNBoston | Jacoby Ellsbury rolls ankle
I was watching yesterday's game and his move back to first did look awkward. I thought it was his heel at first too, and was worried it would be a bigger deal. People roll ankles all the time; nothing to see here.
Herald | Jackie Bradley Jr. shows Red Sox he's ready | Camp views from observation deck | Bradley's HR off Cliff Lee latest major feat | Ryan Howard in touch with David Ortiz' pain | ESPNBoston | Morning report: Last days in F-L-A | Takeaways: Bradley passes another day | Saltalamacchia scratched from trip | CSNNE | Buchholz continues to sizzle | Red Sox use Bradley in left field for first time | Ellsbury on ankle injury 'Nothing of a concern' | Globe | Jackie Bradley Jr. another step closer to making Red Sox | Red Sox won't fool anyone this season | Red Sox Jacoby Ellsbury's ankle injury considered minor | Red Sox take quick 6-0 lead, hold on to defeat Phillies