COMMENTARY | To say Jackie Bradley Jr. is struggling would be a tremendous understatement.
Since a two-hit, three-RBI opening series against the hated New York Yankees, Bradley has racked up exactly one hit. When the Red Sox announced that the then-22-year-old left fielder had made the team, needless to say this was not the type of production they had in mind.
His impressive spring training may have landed him a spot on Boston's opening-day roster, but his play lately has led the team to question that decision.
Bradley made the Red Sox on the strength of his ability to lay off pitches that even more seasoned veterans would swing at. But with an increasingly poor OBP, that hasn't been the case in the young season. Bradley has struggled to make contact, striking out in more than one out of every three at-bats.
After being dropped to 9th in the order in a series against the Baltimore Orioles, Bradley eventually found himself on the bench a week later for an entire series against the Cleveland Indians, entering the game only as a defensive replacement for Daniel Nava. Immediately after the series finale, he was sent to Triple-A Pawtucket.
While his glove appears to be MLB-ready, his bat, however, is not.
It would be too easy to say that Bradley is overwhelmed so far in his MLB career. He has looked comfortable in the outfield, offering a strong defensive presence later in games. But, in the box, he has struggled to adjust to MLB speed. That's something that can only be rectified with time.
It will be a tough--but necessary--task for the young Bradley to put his first MLB cameo in perspective. The talent is certainly there for him to use his short time in the majors as a learning experience and hone his game in the minors. He is fully capable of regaining the confidence he once had and the vision that impressed the Red Sox's staff in March.
Ranked 32nd in MLB.com's top prospect list, Sox fans should still have high hopes for Bradley. Seamlessly making the jump that he attempted is no small feat. Struggles and slumps were to be expected. Still, there is much to like about Bradley's game, and he appears to be the type of person that the Red Sox have sorely needed, taking everything in stride and staying grounded, even when announced as the first Red Sox rookie starter since 2001.
Everything points to a rebound, whenever he gets his next shot in the big show. Whether that's sooner or later depends entirely on him, but I have a feeling this isn't the last we've seen of Jackie Bradley Jr. this season.
Andrew Luistro has followed the Red Sox for over 20 years.
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