Hot Bradley could become leading man

BOSTON -- After putting together a solid effort both offensively and defensively in Monday night’s win against the Texas Rangers, Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. was rewarded by manager John Farrell with his fourth consecutive start.

“He’s in a pretty good place offensively from a confidence standpoint,” Farrell said before Tuesday’s game.

Bradley continued to swing a hot bat in Tuesday’s 10-7 loss to the Rangers. Bradley went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, his second consecutive game with multiple hits and RBIs.

“The last couple of nights, he’s staying inside the baseball well. He gets a base hit in the left-center field gap last night, one off the wall tonight,” Farrell said. “I think his approach at the plate is much like we saw last spring training and late in the year last year when he came back to us.”

The numbers in both cases (a .419 batting average during spring training last year and six hits in his last 16 at-bats of the 2013 season) are similar with where Bradley is now; his .400 batting average leads the team through eight games. The rookie’s plate discipline Tuesday night was also impressive. He saw 19 pitches in his four at-bats, two of which came against Rangers left-handed starter Martin Perez.

“Just trying to look for pitches that I know I can handle and stay away from the pitches that I know I can’t,” Bradley said.

“I feel like the only way to get better against lefties is to actually play against them. I felt like I was seeing him [Perez] really well. He really pitched a very good game tonight and he kept us off balance going to both sides of the plate.”

Despite putting the leadoff runner on eight times, the Red Sox still failed to see impact production out of the leadoff spot in their order as left fielder Jonny Gomes went 1-for-3 with two walks, striking out with runners on second and third with one out during a three-run seventh inning.

With Bradley heating up, in addition to his minor league track record as a leadoff man, the 23-year-old could become a candidate for the top spot in the order.

“I wouldn’t close the door on it,” Farrell said. “[We’re] just letting him settle in and get his legs under him, and he’s doing a good job right now.”

The thought of leading off has yet to even cross Bradley’s mind.

“It’s one of those things where if it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it,” he said.