FORT MYERS, Fla. — The odds are against Jackie Bradley Jr. being on the Opening Day roster. He has played only 61 games at Double A and the Red Sox have been traditionally cautious with their young players.
But with David Ortiz headed for the disabled list and Stephen Drew going in that direction, the Red Sox have two unexpected openings on their roster. All Bradley has done is hit .457/.568/.600 and play Gold Glove-caliber defense in the outfield.
Could he make the team?
“That’s a hell of a question,” manager John Farrell said. “We’ve got two weeks to determine that.”
Bradley could start in center field if the Red Sox use Jonny Gomes as the DH. If Ortiz is going to be out more than a few weeks, that becomes a viable option.
“He’s not on the roster right now. He’s have to be added, obviously. What the counter move to that would be, would be factored into this. But you can’t deny the fact he’s had a hell of a spring training,” Farrell said. “The bottom line thing would be — with any young player, whether it’s Jackie or any other position player — when they come to the big leagues you want to make sure they get regular at-bats.
“If those are there, they become part of the equation. But I think most importantly, he’s doing whatever he can to impact a decision.”
Starting Bradley in the big leagues also would mean starting his service time clock and that could result in his achieving free agency a year earlier. But are the Red Sox — a last place team with fading popularity — in a position to worry about six years down the road?
In the next two weeks, as pitching improves, Bradley will be tested.
“The one thing we’ve always focused on is when he starts to face pitchers that are up against the start of the season, as their stuff is sharpened. Facing quality guys, whether it’s the early part of the game or deeper into the game. That decision is ongoing. That situation is ongoing and ultimately a decision is in the near future here,” Farrell said.
Players like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado have changed the face of their respective teams. Farrell acknowledged that is a factor, too.
“I think young talented players bring an energy that, if you have the right mix with a veteran group is definitely a benefit. That’s going to be unique to the combination of players that are at hand,” he said.
Bradley was supposed to be in minor league camp by now. But as injuries mount, his chances get a little better.