Jackie Bradley Jr. let his bat do the talking Thursday.
Bradley, who has been working tirelessly to improve offensively after another disappointing season at the plate, started off on the right foot Thursday night by collecting two hits in the Boston Red Sox’s 9-8 loss to the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium.
“I’m just trying to focus on making good habits,” Bradley told reporters in Fort Myers. “It’s a work in progress. I’m not trying to focus on results right now, but as long as I’m taking good swings at balls and swing at good pitches. That’s my main focus right now.”
Bradley’s swing certainly was an issue last season. It looked long at times, and the result again was very little contact. Bradley enters 2015 having struck out 152 times in 530 career major league plate appearances.
Bradley seemingly understands the situation, though. It’s unlikely he’ll crack Boston’s Opening Day roster, but adjustments made this spring will go a long way toward determining whether he’ll eventually become a viable everyday option.
“Everyone knows what they need to do,” Bradley said, according to The Boston Globe. “It’s about execution and getting it done. I have perspective now. You can let struggles define you or you can keep working. I choose to keep working.”
Bradley’s two hits Thursday included a line-drive RBI double. The most encouraging aspect of his night, however, was his swing, which didn’t look quite as long as it did amid last season’s woes. Perhaps the 24-year-old will use the effort as a stepping stone toward continued improvement at camp.
“We know that a solid offensive track at the minor league level should give you some indication of what he can do here,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said Thursday. “That’s still a work in progress.
“He’s in a competition for a spot. He’s aware of that. He’s a smart kid. He knows who’s around him and what (his) performance at the major league level has been and the challenges presented and he’s working through it.”
Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo are firmly entrenched ahead of Bradley on the Red Sox’s depth chart in center field. Bradley must make the most of his opportunities to avoid becoming an afterthought.
He did that Thursday.