With Jacoby Ellsbury off in enemy territory, there’s a big hole in center field and in the lineup. Because those are some big shoes to fill, it’s hard not to think of the next Sox centerfielder as his replacement. But if that man is Jackie Bradley, Jr. come opening day, then Bradley doesn’t see it that way.
There have been questions of whether or not Bradley is even ready for the big leagues, which were reignited when the Sox signed Grady Sizemore. But now the two outfielders will certainly be competing for the starting center field spot come spring training. Bradley may have had a less-than-stellar major league performance (he hit .189 with a .617 OPS and struck out one-third of the time he was at the plate), but the time he spent in the minors in 2013 helped him fix the troubles that plagued him in the majors.
“It was a matter of getting out of his approach,” assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez said. “He got beat inside a couple of times, and now he changed his approach to, ‘Let me try to open up with the front side and pull the ball instead of reacting to it.’ His approach is to use the middle of the field, and if it’s inside, react to it. He got away from the middle of the field, and it got him in trouble, but that’s what it’s all about — learning.”
Regardless of how he’s improved, Bradley doesn’t seem to be worried about becoming the next Ellsbury. He’s just taking it all in stride.
“Everyone just needs to focus on being the best they can be,” Bradley said. “Be the best you are and don’t try to be anyone else.”