BOSTON — Jackie Bradley Jr.’s nickname is a simple one: his initials. But Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly has taken to referring to the 25-year-old outfielder by a different moniker.
To Kelly, JBJ now is OBJ.
As in Odell Beckham Jr., the New York Giants wide receiver known for contorting his body to haul in freakishly athletic catches.
Yeah, that sounds a lot like Bradley, who during Wednesday’s 6-4 win over the Cleveland Indians added yet another bold-faced bullet point to his case for being recognized as the best defensive outfielder in all of baseball.
“One of the best catches I’ve ever seen,” said Kelly, who was on the mound when Bradley chased down a sinking line drive off the bat off Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor, elevated off one foot at the warning track, stuck his left arm straight up and snared the ball before his momentum sent him spinning into the center field wall.
Of all the astounding, ridiculous, how-in-the-world-did-he-just-do-that plays the center fielder has made in his still-very-young major league career, this might have been the best yet.
“I thought it was a for-sure double,” Kelly said. “I thought he had no chance. He’s one of the best in the game, but Lindor put a really good swing on it. He’s got some power, and for sure, right off the bat, I was like, ‘That’s a double.’ And then to see him go off one foot, the ball falling on the other side of his shoulder, which is — I played center field, and I thought I was pretty good at it, but he’s unbelievable.”
Even Bradley, who normally exudes supreme confidence following even his most impressive catches, admitted he was surprised the ball found its way into his glove.
“I don’t know if could say I did that time,” he said when asked if he “had it all the way.” “I was glad to make the play.”
Wednesday was another all-around productive night for Bradley, who also drove in half of Boston’s runs with a three-run homer in the fourth inning. He’s gone 10-for-21 in the last seven days with a mind-boggling 1.542 OPS, raising his average by more than 40 points in the process.
As for the new nickname?
“I’m cool with anything that guy (Kelly) says,” Bradley said. “I can take with that.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images
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