Spectacular catch spices up Jackie Bradley Jr. debate

Rob Bradford
May 09, 2019 - 2:44 am

BALTIMORE -- The day before Jackie Bradley Jr. zigged when you thought he would be zagging.

Normally when a player goes through the kind of slump the outfielder has endured there is a lot of talk of sticking to the process. Even with his well-publicized swing evolution, Bradley Jr. would have none of it.

"I’m more focused on the results," he told WEEI.com. "A lot of people always talk about the process, the process. The results are what you want and what needs to happen. I lean on doing the things that lead to results. Whether that’s grinding out an at-bat, competing, bloop job, guys losing it in the sun. That’s what I want to lean on. ... Check the box scores. I want cut-up baseballs. Squibbers down the line. Maybe somebody possibly making a mistake. Something."

It's a results business, which is the hard truth Bradley Jr. has faced while watching his batting average drop to .142 and OPS sit at a major league-worst .409. But then along came the ultimate result -- an unbelievable 11th-inning catch, robbing Trey Mancini of a game-winning home run and allowing the Red Sox to claim their 2-1 win in the 12th.

The Red Sox need Bradley Jr. to deliver something and this time around this was a pretty palatable package.

Nothing. Nothing. And then this.

"Those kind of plays hardly ever happen," Bradley Jr. said. "A lot of things have to be right. The guy has to obviously hit a homer but also just short enough for you to rob it, but then also not hard enough to where you can’t get back to the wall in time. There are a lot of things that go into that. Given the opportunity and the circumstance I was glad I was able to take advantage of the opportunity.

And there you have why the Red Sox have all this patience.

Sure, there is the example of last season when Bradley Jr.'s season-low batting average could be found in the middle of the May. But the real reason is that glove. It was the case two seasons ago when he saved the game for the Red Sox by robbing Oakland's Ryon Healy, and it remained true this time around.

"Unreal. Unreal," Cora said. "That’s why we know the value. We know what he brings defensively every night. Regardless of where he’s at offensively, that shows up. He saved the game with that play. The things he does in the outfield, it’s a plus for what we do. That’s why we have to be patient. Sometimes he does something great offensively. Today, he walked, he worked the count and all that. We know at one point he’ll get hot, but defensively, he’s a plus."