Jackie Bradley Jr. seems to understand that he won’t be handed a job despite Jacoby Ellsbury’s offseason departure. The 23-year-old already is in Fort Myers preparing for the 2014 season.
Bradley, who is expected to compete with Grady Sizemore in spring training for the Boston Red Sox’ starting center field job, will look to brush aside the growing pains he endured at the major league level in 2013. Bradley hit just .189 (18-for-95) in 37 big league games last season, but now sounds ready to turn the page and make strides within the Red Sox’ potent offense.
“I just figured I’d get out here and get to work. I want to get an early start to things,” Bradley told WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Jonny Miller in Fort Myers on Monday. “I’m just trying to go out there and compete for a spot and enjoy myself. Everyone is coming in and working, just getting ready for the season.”
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell repeatedly have expressed confidence in Bradley, and it’s clear that concerns over losing Ellsbury have been mitigated by the 2011 first-round pick’s presence in the Boston outfield. Bradley and fellow rookie Xander Bogaerts will be relied on heavily in 2014, but the duo already is accustomed to handling pressure-packed situations.
“I don’t think we pay attention to the whole pressure thing. We just go out and play, and I think that’s why we’ve been so successful throughout our careers,” Bradley said. “Just go out and play and let everybody else worry about the pressure.”
“Hopefully, we bring some energy. I’m not saying the team doesn’t have any, but we’ll be some of the younger guys on the team, which is something we take pride in as well. Contributing in any way we can and help out the veteran guys.”
Bogaerts made a name for himself by thriving on the big stage last October. Bradley didn’t have that opportunity last season, but it could be in the cards for the South Carolina product in 2014.