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On Baseball

Red Sox have a roster crunch coming

Jackie Bradley Jr. could face a demotion to Pawtucket, despite playing well.

Justin Lane/EPA

Jackie Bradley Jr. could face a demotion to Pawtucket, despite playing well.

CHICAGO - The weather may have pushed back an important personnel decision the Red Sox need to make soon after Shane Victorino’s rehab was postponed in Portland, Me., due to rain Tuesday night.

When Victorino returns the Red Sox have an inventory issue. They will be back to the six-players-for-five-spots scenario.

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Out of spring training they originally sent Jackie Bradley Jr. back to Pawtucket. Now the question is, with Bradley playing so well defensively, will they make a different call?

I asked John Farrell and he did a lot of pausing before coming up with the only public answer he can give at this juncture. Basically - “We’ll see.”

The options really surround Bradley Jr. and Mike Carp.

The Red Sox could easily send Bradley Jr. back to Pawtucket, knowing they have a Gold Glove player like Shane Victorino returning. They could also attempt to deal Carp, or designate him for assignment and then try to deal him.

What the Red Sox don’t want is for Carp to land with the Yankees.

Yankees players were commenting and impressed with Carp’s batting practice at Yankee Stadium over the weekend. They were impressed with his lefthanded power and the team has had a few problems filling in at first base for the injured Mark Teixeira.

Carp would likely be in some demand so you would think the Red Sox could steer him to someplace other than New York.

The Red Sox have been big on protecting inventory. Carp is a proven commodity off the bench. He was part of that winning recipe in 2013.

Do they want to shed their team of yet another piece from last year’s team, a growing list that includes Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia?

Carp is not the best defensive player. He does play first base fairly well, but when coming in cold on a miserable night in Chicago Tuesday night, he couldn’t handle Xander Bogaerts’ poor one-hop throw to first base in the 9th inning and the Red Sox lost.

The Red Sox won with pitching and defense last season. There were few times when they beat themselves because they had airtight infield defense particularly when they had Jose Iglesias playing third, Drew at shortstop, Dustin Pedroia at second base and Mike Napoli at first. Not much got by that infield.

In the outfield, they had the dynamic of Ellsbury/Victorino center-right. Not many balls got into the gaps.

So far, that infield/outfield dynamic has been non-existent.

Grady Sizemore has misjudged some balls both in center and left field.

Do the Red Sox want to try to recreate the Bradley/Victorino dynamic in center? Is that worth letting some of their “inventory” go?

Bradley had a long talk with GM Ben Cherington in the walkway between the dugout and the clubhouse before Tuesday’s game. Don’t know if that had anything to do with his present and/or future with the team. Sox management has great faith in Bradley, whom they consider a plus defender. And like we said, defense is important, which is why they wanted to sign Victorino and make him a right fielder -- so they’d have two center fielders roaming the large expanse of Fenway and other similar ballparks.

Right now at 5-9, the Red Sox have a few things they need to straighten out and important decisions upcoming that could impact them the rest of the way.

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