Red Sox' Jackie Bradley Jr. keeps chin up and swing level – Boston Globe (subscription)
Comments PrintBarry Chin/Globe Staff
Jackie Bradley Jr. has worked on a more efficient swing, as opposed to the uppercut he struggled with last year.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — As he piled up hits during spring training in 2013, there was a heated debate about whether the Red Sox should put Jackie Bradley Jr. on the roster for Opening Day or wait until later in the season to delay his becoming eligible for free agency.
The assumption was that Bradley would be so good that the Red Sox should do everything possible to hold onto him.
“It’s funny how things change,” Bradley said Friday.
Only it’s not so funny for Bradley, who has hit .196 with a .548 OPS over 164 games the last two seasons. The Sox have not given up on the 24-year-old but he stands little chance of making the team.
Manager John Farrell has said Bradley is competing to start in center field but that’s being diplomatic.
“He’s a smart kid,” said Farrell. “He understands who’s around him and what the performance at the major league level has been. He’s working through that.”
That part, the work, can’t be questioned. Bradley makes his home in Naples, about 35 minutes away from JetBlue Park. He started working out at the team facility in November, lifting weights before starting to hit in January.
Bradley was by himself for a while before assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez joined him to pitch batting practice. There were times they were the only two on the field.
“Jackie was dedicated,” Rodriguez said. “He listened, too. He was open to what we talked about.”
Bradley has struck out 152 times in 530 major league plate appearances, an alarming rate for a player who has a .394 on-base percentage in the minors. His swing was a long uppercut, and major league pitchers tortured Bradley with off-speed pitches or fastballs inside.
Now his swing is noticeably more level and compact.
“In BP, to me, it seems like there’s more of a willingness to stay in the middle of the field and not look to lift a ball too much,” Farrell said. “I think it’s more of his natural swing, which he was drafted with.
“Last year at this time, there was …Read More