Center fielder launches 2-run homer against Orioles
By Michael Kolligian
Special to MLB.com |
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Jackie Bradley Jr. continues to swing a hot bat for the Red Sox, going 2-for-4 with a single and a two-run home run in Saturday's 16-8 loss to the Orioles.
"I'm seeing the ball well, and I put some good swings on some balls today," Bradley said. "I'm focused on what I have to do and not really worrying about anything else right now. That's keeping me locked in, and I'm working hard."
Bradley's home run, a towering opposite-field shot in the second inning off a 3-0 pitch from Yovani Gallardo, was his second dinger of the spring -- and a milestone of sorts for the 25-year-old center fielder.
"That's the first time I've ever swung 3-0 in my whole life," Bradley said. "I don't really get the green light much, so I just wanted to take advantage of the opportunity and see what would happen. It is a good feeling. Hopefully it continues."
When asked if he'll continue to give Bradley the nod on 3-0, Red Sox manager John Farrell didn't hesitate.
"As long as he hits home runs," beamed the skipper. "Pretty simple, right?"
Bradley's average now stands at .378 on the spring, and while impressive Grapefruit League production is nothing new to the defensive standout -- he has a career .325 spring average -- the fact that his 2016 output is coming on the heels of a breakout '15 season (10 homers and 43 RBIs in 255 plate appearances vs. four homers and 40 RBIs in 530 plate appearances in '13-'14) should give Red Sox fans reason to believe that his hot spring could lead to an even hotter summer.
"Jackie's had a very strong Spring Training," Farrell said. "I think he's back to his swing that he was signed with, and he understands himself more as a hitter as he's gone along. He's handled left-handers, right-handers. He's in a good place."
• Roenis Elias struggled mightily in relief, allowing six earned runs on seven hits -- including home runs by Manny Machado, Chris Davis and Audry Perez -- in two-thirds of an inning. The 27-year-old lefty saw his spring ERA swell from 5.59 to 10.45.
"A tough day for him … didn't see the life on the fastball through the zone, and not just with the velocity, but also the late action wasn't there," Farrell said.
• Mookie Betts raised his spring average to .300 with a 3-for-4 afternoon.
• Rafael Devers, 19 years old and the Red Sox's No. 2 prospect per MLBPipeline.com, started at third base and went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles.
• Starter Justin Haley was tagged for five runs on six hits in three innings, but he managed to shut down one of baseball's most powerful sluggers: Orioles first baseman Davis. Davis took a third strike from Haley with men on second and third in the first inning and chased a high fastball for strike three with the bases loaded to end the second.
Michael Kolligian is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.