CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Jackie Bradley Jr. continued to make his case for an Opening Day Sox roster spot, smacking a three-run homer off Phillies left-handed starter Cliff Lee, albeit a bit aided on a day with a heavy breeze blowing toward the bullpen.
“He did a very good job,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “You can say all you want about the conditions, wind-aided stuff, but still, he put a good swing on a ball. I think he picked a good pitch the next time up for the sac fly.”
Before the game, Farrell said Bradley’s first start in left field against a tough lefty was a test.
“He passed,” Farrell said.
Besides the home run, the left-handed-hitting Bradley hit a sharp liner to center for a sacrifice fly that scored Dustin Pedroia from third, struck out against Lee on a breaking ball in the fifth and struck against left-hander Jeremy Horst on a similar pitch in his final plate appearance.
When asked if he took facing a veteran left-hander as a challenge, Bradley said he was just focused on creating quality at-bats.
“I’m just trying to stick to my approach and get something good to swing at,” said Bradley, who has a .423 average in the spring. “I just try to treat every pitcher as the same. Eyes are on him. They still have to throw the ball across the plate. It’s kind of the approach I try to go with in the lefty-lefty. I try not to let it get to my head.”
On the two strikeouts, Bradley was upset about not being able to make contact despite expecting a breaking ball on each pitch.
“I was sitting on the pitch so usually when you guess right, you have a tendency of trying to go get it because you did guess it,” Bradley said. “I just have to stay back and not chase outside of the zone.”
The 22-year-old outfield prospect had taken the field in center this spring up until Farrell moved him over to left for the final two innings of Boston’s Grapefruit League contest on the road Friday against the Blue Jays. It was the first time the Virginia native had seen that part of the outfield since his freshman year at Prince George High School.
Bradley made several defensive plays in Friday’s contest that impressed Farrell, who was Cleveland’s director of player development when Grady Sizemore broke camp with the club after having an impressive spring.
On Sunday, after running to his left to snare a line drive by Domonic Brown, Bradley’s next defensive attempt resulted in an error when he rushed in to try to catch a high pop-up by Laynce Nix. With winds consistently blowing in the 20-25 mph range, Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks had camped himself in the area but Bradley called for it before having the ball bounce off his glove.
“I had seen anything high usually the outfielder is going to want to get it because you don’t want the infielder going back,” Bradley said. “I saw it up there and I was looking at it the whole time because you don’t want to take your eyes off it because it’s so windy up there. I didn’t even see Will waving his hands. It was my fault. I should have still made the play. It was bad on my part.”
Farrell praised Bradley and said he played well in left despite the conditions.
“In those elements, the defensive side of it, pretty good,” Farrell said.
Farrell said Bradley will see extensive time in left over the next few days of camp before the Boston brass makes a decision on whether to add him to the Opening Day roster. The Red Sox will take mostly prospects on the road Monday when the team visits the Orioles in Sarasota.
After an off-day Tuesday, three of the Red Sox's final four Grapefruit League contests are at JetBlue Park.
* Former Phillies favorite Shane Victorino was given a standing ovation before his first game this spring at Bright House Field in Clearwater. Victorino gave the fans something else to cheer about when he made a running over-the-head catch on a deep drive to center by Ryan Howard.
On the play, Victorino slammed into the wall and fell to the ground, where he stayed for a few seconds before rising to his feet. Red Sox trainers began making their way out to center before Victorino waved them off.
“Howard was messing with me after the inning and said, ‘What kind of friend are you? You’re supposed to let that fall,’” said Victorino, who played six innings in the field and went 1-for-3 at the plate.
Victorino had his right wrist wrapped in a bandage in the clubhouse, but when I asked if he was fine, he nodded and said, “Yeah, nothing’s wrong, no worries.”
* Daniel Bard, who is still in question for a spot in the bullpen, tossed one inning and allowed one unearned run.
“Better than his last outing,” Farrell said. “Still a work in progress because you see the arm slot early. The first couple of hitters, it was a little bit lower. He got back up. I thought he attacked the zone well, threw some better fastballs. He was in the zone.”
* Red Sox pitching prospect Brandon Workman allowed two runs and two hits while striking out one and walking two in three innings.
“He ran into a stretch where he had a hard time getting the ball down, but overall, just a heavy fastball, good breaking ball and most importantly, you just watch the body language in the way they handle this environment and it was good,” Farrell said.
* Mike Napoli raised his Grapefruit League batting average to .314 after getting three singles in four at-bats. Middlebrooks has a .326 average this spring after going 2-for-4 with a single and a double. Jose Iglesias went 3-for-3 with a double. “We had a number of good at-bats today, especially against a very good pitcher,” Farrell said. “It’s good to see guys starting to get into a better rhythm, particularly (Napoli) the way he swung the bat today. There were a lot of good things that happened today.”