Jackie Bradley has twice been a finalist for the American League Gold Glove in center field. But he has yet to win the award, something that rankles a player who takes immense pride in his defense.
Bradley made a catch on Monday that will help his campaign.
Pittsburgh’s Francisco Cervelli launched a Rick Porcello fastball to center field in the fourth inning, the ball headed for the triangle. Bradley sprinted to the warning track and stuck his glove out just before bouncing softly off the wall.
According to MLB’s Statcast system, which tracks plays with high-resolution cameras and radar, Bradley had only a 55 percent chance of catching the ball and had to go nearly 30 yards to get there.
“I don’t care about the wall. I’m going to catch the ball,” Bradley said.
Sox manager John Farrell was more impressed that Bradley avoided the wall and metal railing alongside the Red Sox bullpen as deftly as he did.
“For him to go full tilt and then be come under control in one stride and not slam into the wall, that was one a heck of a play,” Farrell said.
Said Porcello: “Yeah, that was huge. That ball gets down, it can be a different game.”
Bradley was 1 for 3 with a triple and a walk in the Sox’ 5-3 victory.
Message from Papi
David Ortiz did not attend the game. But the retired slugger did post a 17-second video to Twitter before it started.
“What’s up Red Sox Nation?” Ortiz said. “Just want to wish my boys good luck this season. Always behind you, cheering for your guys. Let’s give Red Sox Nation what they deserve. Good luck, guys. Peace.”
Ortiz attended a World Baseball Classic game in Miami to see the Dominican Republic play but did not spend any time with the Red Sox during spring training. He told friends he did not want to cause any distraction.
The Sox will retire Ortiz’s No. 34 on June 23.
Lefthander Drew Pomeranz, who is on the disabled list with what the team says is a forearm strain, threw six innings in a minor league intrasquad game in Fort Myers, Fla.
Pitching in JetBlue Park so he could be more accurately measured by a tracking system used by the Sox, Pomeranz threw close to 90 pitches, according to Farrell.
Pomeranz is eligible to come off the disabled list on Sunday in Detroit. The Red Sox, who are carrying four starters, will need a fifth starter for the first time that day.
Pomeranz has said his goal is to start that game.
“There was an uptick in overall stuff. It was an encouraging day for him,” Farrell said. “We have yet to discuss what the next step is. But for what he set out to do work-wise, he was able to accomplish that.”
Payroll drop for Sox
According to research by the Associated Press, the Red Sox are fifth in the major leagues with a payroll of $178,818,052.
The Sox trail the Dodgers ($225.5 million), Tigers ($199.7 million), Yankees ($195.2 million), and Giants ($181.5 million).
The AP figures account for the active roster, disabled list, and prorated signing bonuses.
Principal owner John Henry, who also owns the Globe, said in January that he wanted to get under the competitive balance tax threshold of $195 million. That would allow the Red Sox to reset the financial penalty to a 20 percent tax for exceeding the limit in 2018. The penalty otherwise would be 50 percent.
Based on the contracts in place and possibility of contract extensions for one or more of the younger players, exceeding the limit in 2018 is almost inevitable.
The AP figure for the Red Sox does not include the salaries of Allen Craig ($11 million) and Rusney Castillo ($10.5 million). They were outrighted off the major league roster and now play for Triple A Pawtucket.
The Sox payroll, per the AP, did include $1.8 million for a prorated share of Castillo’s signing bonus.
A new season means new real estate in the Red Sox clubhouse.
Ortiz had a three-locker empire before he retired with Pablo Sandoval adjacent to him. That space is now divided between Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez.
With Clay Buchholz gone, David Price took the corner locker traditionally given to the most veteran starter. Chris Sale took Price’s old spot.
Xander Bogaerts moved down the row to the locker vacated by Ramirez. Andrew Benintendi happily took over Bogaerts’s former address.
Head clubhouse man Tom McLaughlin administers the locker assignments. The players with the most major league service time typically get first choice.
First day success
The Sox are now 58-58-1 in openers, 4-1 under Farrell. They have won 7 of 10 . . . The Sox opened at home for the first time since 2010. They are 24-17 when starting the season in Boston . . . The Sox improved to 212-152 in interleague play, the best record in the majors since it started . . . Dustin Pedroia (1 for 4) is 18 of 45 (.400) on Opening Day with eight RBIs in 11 games . . . Xander Bogaerts stole two bases for the first time since last April 24 . . . Craig Kimbrel has converted all 18 of his save chances at Fenway Park going back to 2012, when he was with the Atlanta Braves.
For Benintendi, Heath Hembree, Eduardo Rodriguez, Robby Scott, Steve Selsky, Ben Taylor, and Christian Vazquez, Monday was the first time they were on an Opening Day roster . . . It was the 1,399th career game for Pedroia, tying Dom DiMaggio for 11th in team history . . . With assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez getting over the flu, Triple A Pawtucket hitting coach Rich Gedman was with the team helping out. The PawSox open up on Thursday at Lehigh Valley . . . Oil Can Boyd watched batting practice from behind the cage. Believe it or not, the Can is 57 . . . As part of the pregame ceremonies, there was a moment of silence to honor the memory of former Sox pitcher Dave “Boo” Ferriss, Ruben Amaro Sr., and recently retired MLB executive Katy Feeney. Amaro, whose son is the first base coach of the Sox, was a longtime player, scout and coach with the Phillies.