Farrell: Bradley far more than camp phenom

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- While the Red Sox held off on making an official announcement on whether rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. will make the team's Opening Day roster, manager John Farrell had an answer for those who would simply lump in Bradley with the many players who put up dazzling numbers in spring training, then are exposed once the season begins.

The staff's high regard for Bradley, Farrell said, goes well beyond the impressive numbers he has put up this spring -- .441 batting average, .521 on-base percentage, 26 hits, 9 walks, 2 home runs, 12 RBIs, 12 runs.

"We look at it as the consistency of the at-bats," Farrell said. "You look at certain counts he finds himself in and how's his approach to that.

"One at-bat that kind of stands out to me is the other day against [Baltimore reliever Pedro] Strop. He's down two strikes, he takes two split-fingered fastballs that are major league quality pitches. He gets back in the count and hits a two-run single.

"When you look at the consistency of his control of the strike zone, gets himself in good hitters' counts, what he does in those situations I think that goes beyond the overall batting average."

Farrell insisted Thursday afternoon that the club had not made a final determination on Bradley's fate.

Listening to Farrell, though, it was difficult to imagine the Sox turning back now on promoting him to the big leagues.

"We've allowed him to go this deep in camp, so we're not afraid or unwilling to break camp with him," Farrell said. "If that were the case, we would have sent him out four weeks ago."

The player's makeup carries considerable weight in the decision-making process, the manager said.

"So in the event of something doesn't run out well, where he's challenged, how does he respond -- that's projection," Farrell said. "Until you get to that point, you don't fully know. How strong mentally is he? If he struggles at the major league level, what will his response be?

"At the same time you look at the spring training he's had, the talent that he is, and you try to put together the best team with the best players you can."

Service-time issues and the like?

"We can't control tomorrow, let alone six years from now," Farrell said.

When camp began, Farrell repeatedly indicated that Bradley would eventually be headed back to minor league camp. The player's performance dictated otherwise, along with the fact that without David Ortiz to DH, there was playing time potentially available to Bradley that was not foreseen at the start of camp.

Bradley's skill set did not come as a surprise to Farrell or anyone else in baseball operations who has charted his progress since being a first-round sandwich pick in 2011. What had Farrell heard about the kid coming in?

"Similar to what we've seen," the manager said. "A mature guy has always been in the center of the team which he played for, whether it was college or in his one-plus years in the minor leagues here.

"From a scouting evaluation, again it was accurate. A guy who is a well above-average defender right now, a complete understanding of the strike zone. Doesn't play in any kind of panic mode. Everything we've thrown at him this spring, he's held true to form."