Jackie Bradley Jr. went hitless in his final eight at-bats before being optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday. The 23-year-old still made some strides in his second big league call-up, though.
Bradley, who hit .097 (3-for-31) while up with Boston in April, hit .250 (4-for-16) after being recalled at the end of May. He even smacked his first major league home run in the Red Sox’ 17-5 win over the Rangers on Tuesday, and he notched his first career multi-hit game with a 3-for-5 effort against the Yankees on June 1.
“It’s an improvement,” Bradley said of his second big league stint. “I’m getting better. Just go down there [to Triple-A], get back to work, do the same thing, the usual, and keep getting better.”
Bradley has had no problem feasting on minor league pitching, both this year and in previous years. He hit .315 with a .430 on-base percentage in 128 games split between High-A and Double-A last season, and he is hitting .354 with a .457 on-base percentage in 20 Triple-A games this season. The outfielder’s struggles have simply come at the big league level, and while there are still adjustments to be made, there’s also plenty of reason for optimism.
“It’s clear that he learned from his experience the first time where pitchers were attacking him in as the book on him started to circulate through the league,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said Saturday. ” I think he handled it well going down to be more conscious of the strike zone in. Days when he gets his starts, he played with confidence. I think as he continues to experience the up and downs, that’s part of where he’s at in his career right now. He’s learning each day he walks on the field.”
Bradley was sent down to make room for Shane Victorino, who was activated off the disabled list on Saturday. He’s still just a phone call away, though, so it’s only a matter of time before he finds himself back in Boston. When that becomes the case, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Bradley really hit the ground running, especially if he’s forced into everyday big league action for one reason or another.
For now, it’s back to the farm. But while the up-and-down nature of Bradley’s season might start to weigh on some players, it doesn’t seem to have any impact whatsoever on the former first-round pick.
“I know I get to wake up, play the game I love every single day. I’m enjoying it and whatever happens, happens,” Bradley said.
A positive attitude doesn’t guarantee big-league success. But it certainly makes overcoming rough patches easier, and Bradley’s second major league stint was a step in the right direction after a shaky first go-round.