BOSTON -- It has been 10 days since Red Sox rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. had his last hit, a second-inning single in the Rogers Centre off Blue Jays pitcher Josh Johnson. The fanfare that greeted his promotion to the big leagues has quickly subsided.
Entering Monday’s game, Bradley has gone hitless in 17 at-bats since then, his average falling to .107 (3 for 28). Only four American League players (25 plate appearances or more) have a lower average, including fellow rookie Aaron Hicks of Minnesota, who won the Twins’ center-field job out of camp but is batting .047 (2 for 43), with a league-high 20 strikeouts.
Hicks, like Bradley, is 22 years old and making the jump from Double-A, although in his case the Twins had hoped he won the center-field job outright, whereas the Sox were always prepared for the likelihood that this was a provisional move, with Bradley headed back to the minors when David Ortiz was activated.
One of the reasons the Sox gave for their willingness to break camp with Bradley is their sense that he had the maturity to handle failure. The test, obviously, has come sooner than he would have liked.
“It’s difficult in the sense that you know you’re a far better player than your performance has shown," Bradley said Monday morning. “I guess that’s the difficult part about it. Knowing that, pushing and the willingness to work at it, I think that’s what makes me feel comfortable. I know adversity is going to happen and you’re not going to be happy about it. I feel like I can play so much better."
Bradley acknowledged that he has to fight the tendency to beat himself up.
“I’m a thinker, so I am going to beat myself up a little bit about it," he said. "In a way I’ve got to let up off it, too. I can focus on just beating myself up instead of pushing forward."
Better days, he advises, will come.
“I’m a baseball player," he said. “I’m a gamer. It’s all about your time. When it happens it’ll turn around."
Manager John Farrell was asked how he feels Bradley has handled his struggles.
“I think as well as can be expected," Farrell said. “He’s also human and there’s some frustration involved with maybe some of the at-bats he’s gone through over the past week.
“Again, we knew those challenges would likely emerge. If we didn’t feel he had the capacity to respond or handle those in a stable way, we wouldn’t have taken the gamble to bring him with us north. I can’t say anything he has gone through or his reaction has been different than we anticipated."