Jackie Bradley Jr.

Ben Cherington: Concerns about Jackie Bradley Jr.'s coachability 'absolutely not' part of sending him down

September 03, 2014 - 2:20 pm
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NEW YORK -- It has been a difficult time for Jackie Bradley Jr. The 24-year-old hit .212/.288/.290 in the big leagues, a performance that resulted in his being optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket in mid-August. His results have been little better there, as he's hit .212/.246/.273 in Triple-A. As reported at the time of his assignment to Pawtucket, there have been questions inside the Red Sox organization about whether Bradley was receptive to some of the messages that he was receiving from team officials and coaches -- a concern that is distinct from his willingness to work or his desire to improve. While those questions were real, however, GM Ben Cherington suggested that such concerns had nothing to do with the move to demote Bradley and call up Mookie Betts to be the everyday center fielder in mid-August.

"First of all, as far as the question about whether that was part of the decision to send him down, I can say absolutely not. The decision to send him down was based on our feeling at the time that the offensive part of the game -- that he needed to develop a routine that worked for him and it was going to be easier for him to do that for some period of time in Pawtucket," Cherington said in Yankee Stadium. I'€™m not a coach. I know that every player is different, is going to respond differently to guidance. We know that Jackie has had a ton of success in his life as a baseball player, at the major league level, at the minor league level. It hasn'€™t come as quickly for him, at least on the offensive side at the major league level, and that'€™s not easy for a guy to deal with. There'€™s never been an issue from the Red Sox'€™s perspective of whether he'€™s willing to work or whether he cares, anything like that. We'€™re trying to find the right way to reach every player, including Jackie, and then the player has to have a responsibility then too. That'€™s a relationship that we strive to reach. We want to build a good, functional relationship with any player. And if one is struggling it means we still have to work on that, but it had nothing to do with sending him down to Pawtucket."

Bradley has taken issue with the suggestion that he needs to develop his routine. But Cherington suggested that while the center fielder does have a pregame routine, he needs to find one that permits him to develop more consistent offensive success.

"I wouldn'€™t want to get into every detail  of conversations we'€™ve had with him but I think on the one hand there is work and then there is finding a way to excel and finding what works for you and what works for a particular player to excel at the major league level," said Cherington. "Jackie has a routine that has worked for him to this point. And now he just had to find the way to for him to be successful offensively, a little bit more successful offensively at the major league level. Does that require an adjustment? It may. Ultimately he'€™s going to find an answer to that."

The Sox expect that Bradley -- who is the everyday center fielder for the PawSox in the International League playoffs -- will be back in the big leagues this month. Cherington likewise said that the team expected recently signed Cuban Rusney Castillo to join the Sox sometime in September, once he no longer has a chance to get at-bats in the minors. By contrast, Cherington said that he did not expect to see left-hander Henry Owens (slated to start in the International League playoffs) in the big leagues, both because of the workload that Owens has assumed this year (he's at 160 innings between Double-A, Triple-A and the All-Star Futures Game) and due to the fact that he's not currently on the 40-man roster, and thus would limit the team's roster flexibility if he were added. "I think it'€™s unlikely," Cherington said of an Owens call-up. "Given where we are in his calendar and where we are as a team '€“ look, if you'€™re in a position where you have a chance to get into October or win a game in October, then you put the best 25 guys on the field, whoever they are, with less concern for managing the roster in the off-season. But given where we are, he'€™s had a very full season, a very good season, he'€™s had a number of Triple-A starts now, I think he goes into next spring training in a solid position along with a number of other young starters who will be competitive in next spring training, I'€™m not sure weighing all the factors if it makes sense to pull him up in September. He'€™s had a good full season so we'€™ll probably just look to get him in a good off-season program and look forward to seeing him in spring training."