Detroit Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter has nine Gold Gloves on his impressive major league résumé. The 18-year veteran’s praise of Boston Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. carries weight.
Hunter complimented Bradley’s defensive skills this weekend at Comerica Park, telling reporters that the 24-year-old has the tools to make a major impact even amid his early offensive struggles.
“He goes straight to the ball,” Hunter told reporters in Detroit. “His routes are A to B. He doesn’t have no A, B and C. He goes right to it on a straight line, and that’s when I know that this guy has it all together. And I’ve seen him do that several times so far.”
Hunter was especially impressed by a play that Bradley made in the fourth inning of Friday’s game. Victor Martinez sent a ball toward the right-center field gap with two on and one out. Bradley, as he’s done so often this season, showed off his excellent range while making a running grab. Miguel Cabrera rounded second base because he thought the ball definitely was going to drop, and the Red Sox were able to turn a double play as a result.
“With the wind blowing, it’s like a little tunnel out there,” Hunter said. “A lot of guys, the wind takes it and they try to make the adjustment and it hits off the end of their glove or they miss it. He didn’t. He had concentration, he stayed with it, he kept himself under control. For him to do that, you’ve got to be very talented out there. He’s pretty good. I like the way he’s playing the game.”
Hunter’s Tigers and Bradley’s Red Sox hooked up in last year’s ALCS. If the Red Sox get back on track, it’s possible the teams could meet in the postseason again this season. Hunter still is more than willing to take Bradley under his wing, though, even offering to take Bradley out to dinner so that the rookie can pick the 38-year-old’s brain.
“Whatever he wants to learn from me, man, I’ll give it all to him,” Hunter said. “I will give him everything that I’ve learned in this game from others and things that I’ve picked up on my own from failure. From failure is what makes you stronger.”