A.J. Pierzynski: Jackie Bradley Jr. has 'the ability to be a great player'

April 07, 2014 - 7:52 pm
Categories: 

Off the bat, Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski knew that teammate Jackie Bradley Jr. had a chance. Yes, the ball hit by Rangers catcher J.P. Arencibia had no business being playable, but Pierzynski saw his right fielder taking flight towards the corner and recognized a player with uncommon defensive skill who had a chance to make the play. And so, Pierzynski was thoroughly impressed but not shocked when Bradley made a running catch in the far reaches of right field, just as he'd appreciated yet hadn't been baffled by Bradley's ability to make a sliding catch on a Donnie Murphy liner to right-center.

'€œI tell you what, he gets some amazing jumps in the outfield," said Pierzynski. "I just see the jumps he gets. For me, one good thing about being catcher is you get to see jumps on balls hit, and see how quickly they react, I saw him react not only that one but one [Donnie] Murphy hit too, got him coming in. just gets incredible jumps on balls. I don'€™t know if he'€™s fastest guy in world but jumps he gets on balls , gets to top speed right away is impressive."

On Monday, those plays were pivotal. The Murphy hit would have scored a run with two outs; Arencibia's ball would have been at least a double had it landed. And so, Bradley played a key role in the dominant line posted by John Lackey, while his offense -- three hits, including a pair of RBI singles and a bunt single -- contributed directly to four runs.

It was the sort of performance that Bradley has rarely delivered in the big leagues, but one that teammates like Pierzynski believe are within reach of the 23-year-old. While Bradley's performance hasn't always aligned with his prospect hype, Pierzynski suggested that his talent remains significant.

"He'€™s a great player -- he'€™s got the ability to be a great player," said Pierzynski. "You don'€™t understand how hard this game is until you actually do it every day and play and get out there and try to understand what it'€™s like to compete against the other guys because the other guys are really good too. Sometimes we try to put people in places ahead of when they'€™re ready to be where they'€™re supposed to be at and Jackie tonight had a great game, had three huge hits for us. It'€™s good for him to get those hits and get confidence and make plays in the outfield like he made, and do some things. It'€™s fun to watch because he has all the ability in the world to be a special player and hopefully this is the start to something special all year.'€

Comments ()