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Manager John Farrell gave us our first hint that Boston’s thinking may be changing. When I posed the question to Farrell Tuesday morning on whether it was “far-fetched” that Bradley could make the team, the response was, well, telling. There was a pause and then he said, “That’s a good question.”
Farrell is enamored with Bradley. So are the coaches.
There’s nothing not to like. He has poise, speed, the ability to track balls in the outfield. He hits lefties and righties. He seems to have no fear, whether it’s high-velocity throwers or finesse guys. His jumps on the ball in the outfield are phenomenal.
He is Jacoby Ellsbury’s replacement next season, should Ellsbury leave in free agency. But Farrell revealed that when Shane Victorino departs for the World Baseball Classic at the end of the week, Bradley will play some right field.
As for Farrell’s eventual response to the “far-fetched” question, it was interesting.
“The best way to answer it, we didn’t have that [making the team] as a strong possibility, and we’re four games into the game schedule. He would be served well to get at-bats in the minor leagues before he comes up, but again he’s making a strong impression in camp.
Globe: Big jump for Bradley?
First off, I love that Farrell and the coaches love Jackie Bradley Jr. He's been doing everything right and he's had a good start to Spring Training thus far going 5-for-9. He'll get more of a chance to play once Shane Victorino leaves for the World Baseball Classic and he could make a case to at least be in a platoon for right field and make Victorino move to left. An all-CF outfield would be amazing to watch defensively, just think of all the ground they could cover!
If JB Jr. does continue to play well it puts Cherington in a quandary. Surely you want to promote the effort by giving him a shot in the Bigs but would he give him the shot right away and start his Service Time clock on Opening Day? Doing so could lose some flexibility for the Sox as he could become eligible for free agency in 2018. But if they decides to wait it out for a little, much like the Tampa Bay Rays did with Desmond Jennings back in 2011, the Sox would gain another year and keep him under wraps until 2019, which is huge if he turns out to be the player we all hope and dream he will become.
Then there's the issue of rushing him up: he's only played professional ball for a year. Between his base running and defensive abilities, he can very well help this team win now but would the jump from AA to MLB pitching hurt his development at the plate? It's being a bit over-protective of Bradley and that's thanks in large part to Theo Epstein's old mindset is to make sure they develop naturally. Yes, there are some times where he pushed players agressively, like Jacoby Ellsbury, but it happened because there were injuries and it was a better idea to being up Ellsbury instead of trading for another player.
All signs are pointing to Jackie Bradley joining the majors in 2013, it's just a matter of when. And when he does get to the Majors, those that aren't enamored with JB Jr. already will surely fall under his spell soon. He's that damn good.
Rest of the Links: Globe: Dempster's debut is very striking | Herald: Bradley a quick study in major league camp | Pitching with purpose | Youk at peace as a Yankee | CSNNE: Brand new ballgame | Cardinals do most damage after Mortensen exits | WEEI: Bard: "I feel good about where [I'm] heading | How close is Jackie Bradley Jr. to the Big Leagues?