Most Disappointing Boston Red Sox Players in Spring Training So Far
The Boston Red Sox have fewer spring training questions to answer than a lot of other ball clubs. Most of the roster has returned for the defending World Series champions, and they are primed to be contenders once again in 2014.
However, Boston has had its share of underachievers to this point in exhibition play, including a pair prospects intended to become full-time starters. With some being of greater concern than others, here are five Red Sox players who've failed to live up to expectations this spring.
Statistics courtesy of RedSox.com.
No 5: David Ortiz
Nine-time All Star David Ortiz is just 2-for-27 in spring training, with 1 home run and 2 RBI. But is his .074 batting average really anything to worry about?
Ortiz hit only .228 with 3 home runs and 7 RBI in 19 spring games a year ago, yet he still put together a spectacular regular season and a World Series performance for the ages. In fact, Ortiz has never batted higher than .250 in any of the previous six Grapefruit League seasons.
While Red Sox fans would undoubtedly prefer watching Ortiz tear the cover off the ball in Fort Myers, they can still expect to see the same old Big Papi once the games start to matter.
No. 4: Xander Bogaerts
After exploding onto the scene with a .412 on-base percentage in last year's playoffs, Xander Bogaerts has set the bar fairly high for himself in his rookie season. Unfortunately, Bogaerts has not produced at the plate to this point. He's batting only .143 through 12 games, with a .294 OBP and a .321 slugging percentage.
The good news for Bogaerts is that the Red Sox are extremely confident in the 21-year-old, and he doesn't have any serious competition for the starting shortstop job. It's probably asking too much of Bogaerts to assume he'd pick right up where he left off last fall, he had a total of just 44 major league at-bats before the 2013 postseason began.
Unless something catastrophic happens in the next 10 days, Bogaerts is still going to be in the Opening Day lineup.
No. 3: Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller put up some very impressive numbers for the Red Sox in 2013 before suffering a season-ending injury to his left foot in July. He struck out 48 batters in 30.2 innings, with an ERA of 2.64.
Now fully healthy, Miller is looking to reclaim his role as Boston's primary left-handed reliever. However, in five appearances this spring he's allowed 5 walks and 5 earned runs in just 3.1 innings pitched.
Via Sean McAdam of Comcast Sports Net, here's what Red Sox manager John Farrell had to say about Miller's last outing on March 13:
Erratic command again. He had been making really steady progress. The last three times out, you could see the timing and delivery becoming more consistent. Today, he yanked a couple of balls and just didn't settle into the inning to execute consistent strikes. He needs repetition, he needs appearances.
As Farrell said, Miller may just need some more time on the mound to find his groove. If his numbers haven't improved by the start of the season, it could be time to worry.
No. 2: Brandon Workman
In last season's playoffs Brandon Workman emerged as one of the most reliable arms in the Boston bullpen. Over seven postseason appearances he threw 8.2 innings without giving up an earned run; he held opposing hitters to just a .226 batting average. Heading into 2014 there were whispers that Workman could challenge for the No. 5 spot in the Red Sox starting rotation.
Workman has pitched 11 innings this spring, yielding 14 hits, 8 earned runs and a .304 batting average against. While his 6.55 ERA is somewhat disconcerting, there were signs of encouragement in his appearance against the New York Yankees on March 18. After allowing a home run and two singles upon entering the game, Workman retired the next seven batters he faced.
Like Miller, Workman still has amply opportunity to get back on track, and he should have no problem locking up a roster position among Boston's relievers.
No. 1: Jackie Bradley Jr.
A year ago Jackie Bradley Jr. made a name for himself in spring training by hitting .419 with a .507 on-base percentage in 28 games. It was even good enough to earn him a spot in left field on Opening Day.
With Jacoby Ellsbury gone from the Red Sox roster in 2014, the starting center field position became Bradley Jr.'s to lose. Despite leading the team with 37 at-bats, Bradley Jr. is batting just .189 so far with an OBP of .268.
Reclamation project Grady Sizemore has looked good enough to snatch the job away from Bradley Jr., but there are concerns about Sizemore's ability to play every day. ESPN's Gordon Edes writes that Boston may give Daniel Nava a tryout in center as a potential backup for Sizemore should the struggling Bradley Jr. be demoted to Triple-A:
The only reason the Red Sox would want to see Nava in center is if they intend to open the season with Grady Sizemore in center field while keeping Shane Victorino in right field as much as possible. That creates the need for another outfielder who can spell Sizemore in center. Rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. is an obvious candidate, of course, although if Sizemore wins the everyday job, there is strong sentiment in the Sox organization that Bradley would be better served to play on a daily basis in Triple-A Pawtucket.
Bradley Jr. hasn't lost the job yet, but his poor showing to this point has created an unexpected position battle in center field.