Just days ago, Shane Victorino vowed he would be in the starting lineup and his nagging hamstring injury would not affect the center field competition between Jackie Bradley Jr. and Grady Sizemore. However, on the morning of Opening Day, exactly the opposite has come true. The Red Sox announced that Victorino will head to the 15-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain and that Jackie Bradley Jr., who just lost the competition to Sizemore, will be recalled in his place.
Victorino dealt with nagging injuries to his hamstring for much of last season, only playing in 122 games. Obviously, the Red Sox want the right fielder to get off to a fresh start in 2014 and letting him aggravate that injury in the first few games of the season is clearly not the right move. On the bright side, we will get a chance to see the center field competition work itself out in front of our very eyes.
Jackie Bradley Jr. came into the spring as the favorite to start in center field but a strong spring by Grady Sizemore (.310/.356/.429) coupled with a lackluster spring by Bradley Jr. (.158/.213/.263) changed that opinion. Manager John Farrell named Sizemore as the starter in center field, but with Victorino on the shelf, Bradley Jr. will likely start regularly in right field and will be able to give Sizemore a day off in center field as the 31-year old will be seeing his first major league action since 2011.
Bradley Jr. will not be in the starting lineup today as Daniel Nava is slated in right field with Mike Carp in left field. Going forward, that lineup could be troublesome defensively though and the presence of an excellent defensive outfielder in Bradley Jr. will be a tremendous asset. Although it’s unfortunate that it comes at the cost of a healthy Victorino, it’s good that we’ll get to see the center field competition work itself out in these first few weeks of the season.