A line could mark the end of Jackie Bradley Jr

(Photo by Rob Bradford)
Eric D. Schabell
Contributing Writer

Last month we took a look at some of the options for the 2015 Red Sox outfield, but if you looked closely a single important name was left out.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

The single most effective center fielder we have seen play defense in Fenway form some time, making us all forget that the previous free agent who left that spot was ever there.

Though his defense was definitely plus caliber, his hitting left much to be desired.

In 530 plate appearances over the last two seasons, Bradley has hit only .196 with a .548 OPS. Both numbers rank in the bottom three in baseball.

Well to correct his offensive woes, Bradley has been down in Florida for over a month and a half working out in the cages with assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez.

When you look at the cage he works in, you will notice that there is a line stretched across to provide Bradley with a reference point, a point where if the ball is above this line he is not to swing at it.

"Staying under the line means staying on top of the ball," Rodriguez said by phone on Friday to John Tamese of WEII.com. “You've got to stay short and through the ball. It’s a target that you visualize, and it forces you to stay on top.”

Bradley's results have caught the attention of manager John Farrell and other members of the coaching staff.

"...[hitting coach] Chili Davis, the manager, the coaches,  they’ve been real happy with what they've seen," Rodriguez said. "To give him credit, he’s put in a lot of good time to get it done. I've been with him for a while,” he said. “I saw him in the minor leagues. You want him to do what he’s capable of doing. The last two years, he really didn't show that, or at least what he showed me in the minor leagues."

When asked what kind of player Bradley can be if he figures things out at the plate Rodriguez said, "Oh my dear Lord, something good. I know his name is not mentioned too much. But the defensive ability this guy has, if he’s able to bring that offensive part of the game on a consistent basis, I think we’ve got something good, something really good."

If Bradley hits, he will force himself back onto the big league radar, even in a crowded outfield.

His defense is so good that the entire Red Sox nation should be praying for him to figure out his offense.

If not, it could very well be the end of Jackie Bradley Jr in a Red Sox uniform.

Post a comment or via twitter @erics_redsox with your thoughts.

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