Pitchers and catchers reporting day won’t officially roll around for the Boston Red Sox for another 12 days but that hasn’t stopped a handful of players from arriving to camp early. They’ll hold their own workouts with any other players and coaches as they all arrive on scene, but the group won’t work out together as a team for at least another two weeks. Getting in some extra work could prove beneficial to many of the players in this group, including Jackie Bradley Jr. who’s hoping to win the team’s starting job in center field.
Drake Britton, Will Middlebrooks, Alex Hassan, Daniel Nava, and Blake Swihart are all also already in Florida according to multiple reports. Joon Lee from MLB Daily Dish and Over the Monster also adds that Xander Bogaerts is “on his way” to join them.
Bradley was a popular discussion topic for most of last Spring, despite the fact that he’d yet to appear in a game above Double-A and wasn’t yet on the team’s 40-man roster. He’d hit .419 during the team’s slate of games, looking impressive and comfortable in center field. With David Ortiz suffering from injury to start the year, Bradley earned his place on the Major League active roster and begin his Red Sox career ahead of schedule.
2013 ultimately proved to be a trying time for Bradley. He’d spend much of it back down in Triple-A and would struggle at the plate when with the big club in Boston. It seemed like more, but he kept his plate appearance totals down low enough to retain his rookie status heading into 2014.
But with changes being made to the roster over the course of the offseason, Bradley now finds himself the favorite to land the center field job but he doesn’t appear to be taking anything for granted, according to Matthew Geagon at CBS Boston:
I just figured I’d get out here and get to work. I want to get an early start to things. I’m just trying to go out there and compete for a spot and enjoy myself. Everyone is coming in and working, just getting ready for the season.
Bradley does reside in the area during the offseason, but the recent newlywed still seems to be keeping his eye on the ball.
Geagon further discusses the impact of Bradley and Middlebrooks’ early arrivals. He further notes that the pair, along with Bogaerts, will collectively form the young nucleus that the team will continue to build around in the years to come. There is a ton of veteran leadership in the locker room for this trio to continue learning from as they become more entrenched into the team’s lineup.