Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley taking things in stride: 'I don't focus on the future or later, I control what I can control right now'

Ryan Hannable
April 07, 2015 - 6:11 pm

PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- The 2014 season was one to forget for Jackie Bradley. The Red Sox center fielder hit just .198 in 127 games, and was sent down to Triple-A Pawtucket with only a few weeks left in their season. Defensively, there's no question Bradley is one of the best center fielder's in the game, but it's at the plate where he's struggled. Bradley has been on the Red Sox' Opening Day roster each of the past two seasons, so this will be the first time since 2012 he won't be opening the year in the majors. With young stud Mookie Betts manning center field with the Red Sox, and Shane Victorino in right, as well as Cuban prospect Rusney Castillo starting in Pawtucket with Bradley, and the pair alternating duties between center and right field, it could be difficult for a player in Bradley's position to lose focus and watch what others around him are doing. He says that won't be an issue. "It's easy for me," Bradley said Tuesday at PawSox media day. "I can't speak for anybody else, but I focus on the now. I don't focus on the future or later, I control what I can control right now, and that's it." "Just play the game and let all that take care of its self," he added. There is reason to have some optimism heading into the season for Bradley as he made a few adjustments at the plate with more of a closed off stance and his hands starting higher this season. He had a solid spring batting .378 with an on-base percentage of .462. "That was all me. All me," he said of the adjustment he made. "It's not like I am trying to steal any credit or anything, but it was just something I worked on in the offseason and am focusing on keeping my head on the ball, swing path, there it is." Red Sox manager John Farrell, as well as countless others, have been on record saying he's the best center fielder in the game. Bradley acknowledged he takes a lot of pride in his defense, but doesn't pay attention to what others are saying. "I take pride in my defense, whether people talk about it or not, I don't really pay attention," said Bradley. "I want to be able to help the team out, the pitchers out, and ultimately I just want to win. That is the main focus and things will go the way you want them to." With Castillo, as well as outfielder Bryce Brentz playing in the outfield with Bradley in Pawtucket, there's certainly no guarantee he would be the one called upon if the Red Sox needed to call an outfielder up. When asked what he needed to do in the minors to eventually get the call back to the big leagues, Bradley had one word. "Execute," he said. "I want to be able to execute. If you execute when the time comes, good things will happen."