In just a few days, we’ll finally find out whether Jackie Bradley is going to break camp with the Boston Red Sox or start the 2013 season in the minor leagues.
On Wednesday, however, manager John Farrell spoke to reporters about who will likely see time in left field to start the season and it wasn’t Bradley. Instead, Daniel Nava is expected to play left field when the Red Sox are going up against right-handed pitching, according to Scott Lauber of The Boston Herald.
Farrell also said that although Bradley may be playing some spring training games in left field, “I don’t see him as a left fielder.”
If Farrell doesn’t see Bradley as a left fielder, he probably won’t be one. And if Bradley isn’t going to be a left fielder, he probably isn’t going to make the Opening Day roster. I had Nava penciled in as Boston’s fourth outfielder to start the year, and that seems to be the way the Red Sox are currently swaying.
Bradley has mainly played center field this spring, but that position will be occupied by Jacoby Ellsbury once the regular season kicks off on April 1 against the New York Yankees. Left field is technically supposed to be manned by Jonny Gomes, but the David Ortiz injury situation has changed that up a bit.
In my opinion, Gomes is the likely candidate to replace Ortiz as Boston’s designated hitter. That means that another player would fill in for Gomes in the outfield until Ortiz is ready to take the field. Up until this point, Bradley looked like the favorite.
Although Bradley has never played a game in Triple-A, his performance this spring training has been second to none. In 19 games and 41 at-bats, Bradley is hitting .439/.549/.561 with a trio of extra-base hits, nine runs, five RBI and eight walks. It’s pretty tough to compete against that, but it appears that Nava is keeping up.
In 16 games this spring, Nava is hitting .333/.429/.361 with a double, seven runs and four walks. Those numbers aren’t nearly as good as Bradley’s, but he is now the front-runner to replace Gomes in the outfield while Gomes replaces Ortiz in the lineup.
The situation is a little mind-boggling, but as I assessed the other day, there are a couple of reasons why Boston shouldn’t have Bradley on the roster once the start begins. The main reason is due to his free-agent clock, which although it shouldn’t be in the front of Boston’s mind, should be considered when making the final decision.
Although it may seem like putting Bradley on the roster would be an obvious choice, Farrell does make a good point that he isn’t really a left fielder. In the future, Bradley is going to be the team’s center fielder—as Jacoby Ellsbury is set to hit the open market after this season.
Sure, Boston could throw Bradley in left field for the time being, but as Farrell hints, that doesn’t seem likely.