Jackie Bradley Jr. had one heck of a spring training. His numbers were so good, in fact, that Michael Chavis was the only player to post better ones.
Despite the numbers, the Boston Red Sox outfielder isn’t concerned about what he’s done leading up to the Major League Baseball season– which officially begins Thursday — because he’s more focused on what he can do to help his team repeat as World Series champions.
?I?m more paying attention to the process of my swing,? he told The Athletic’s Chad Jennings. ?I couldn?t care less about the numbers. I?m caring about how the ball is coming off my bat, whether I?m consistently swinging at good pitches, forming good habits, seeing what pitches I can handle at a particular moment and kind of adjusting from there. And, mainly, now that things are starting to wind down, just making sure I?m getting into that competitive mode to the point where it?s competing. The whole, kind of, I don?t want to say going through the motions because you?re still getting your work in, (but) you?re working on stuff. But some of those things you?ve kind of got to put behind and show that you?re competing.?
Bradley finished Grapefruit League action with a .333 batting average with three home runs, eight RBIs and four doubles.
The center fielder had plenty of highlight-reel catches — as he does every season — last year, but struggled at the plate in the first half of the season. He finished 2018 with a .234 average after batting just .161 in his first 124 plate appearances. But after his strong finish to the regular season, he’s optimistic about what he will bring this year.
?It?s showing me that I?m going in the right direction,? Bradley said. ?Obviously, I?m not a finished product. It?s something that?s still new to me. I?m continuing to do the drills in order to make it a habit, so my body doesn?t revert back to the old ways. I think it?s going to be something that I?ll need to work on every single day. Like, I said, the best is yet to come, so I?m very excited.?
Bradley was a staple to the Red Sox’s offensive production in the American League Championship Series, earning the MVP after smashing a bases-clearing double in Game 2, a grand slam in Game 3 and two-run homer in Game 4 against the Astros. And if the best really is yet to come, the bottom half of Boston’s rotation will be even more dangerous.