Mar 24, 2014; Sarasota, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (25) jogs off the field before the start of the spring training exhibition game against the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The center field battle rages on as Red Sox knock off Rays


Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Monday’s day off due to rain was apparently just what the Boston Red Sox needed to get back on track this spring. After two poor outings from the pitching staff, Clay Buchholtz put in six quality innings while allowing just three hits, two walks and two runs, and struck out five. The Red Sox then rolled out three consecutive relievers that should play a major role in the bullpen this season, with Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, and Edward Mujica putting up a collective three innings while allowing just a single base runner and striking out three.

With Shane Victorino scratched from this game, the center field battle between Grady Sizemore and Jackie Bradley Jr. took center stage, as both shared the outfield Tuesday afternoon. Sizemore got the start in center while JBJ spent the game in right, and both played all nine innings. Bradley went 0-4 and struck out twice while Sizemore went 1-4, his lone hit was his first home run of the spring, a two-run shot in the top of the sixth.

Sizemore is now hitting .303 this spring over 10 games, while Bradley has struggled in 17 games, putting up an average of just .173 with 16 strike outs. Sizemore has also been playing a very good defensive center field, so it looks as though taking over as the heir apparent to the departed Jacoby Ellsbury might not be as immediate as anticipated for Bradley.

Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks were the only two players on the day to tally multiple hits. Middlebrooks started the scoring with a solo home run off the newly anointed number five starter for the Tampa Bay Rays, Jake Odorizzi. Bogaerts doubled in Mike Napoli, also off Odorizzi, in the top of the fourth.

Middlebrooks has shined this spring, tied for second in RBIs and tied for the lead in home runs, while hitting for a .317 average and racking up the most hits of any member of the Red Sox this spring.

Sizemore’s aforementioned home run finished off the scoring, giving the Red Sox a 4-2 victory. The two runs for the Rays both came in the bottom of the third inning off base hits by Jose Molina and Wil Myers.

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Tags: Boston Red Sox Grady Sizemore Jackie Bradley Jr.