Takeaways: Bradley in LF turns heads

March, 22, 2013
3/22/13
4:34
PM ET
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- A 1-0 loss by the Red Sox to the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday might not have produced much excitement, but a coaching move by Boston manager John Farrell provided plenty of drama moving forward. Without further ado, here are the takeaways from the contest in Dunedin:

* Jackie Bradley Jr.’s breakout has been the story of the spring for the Red Sox. It’s a tale that took yet another interesting twist Friday. Although Farrell has said he doesn’t see Bradley as a left fielder, the Red Sox skipper moved him from center to left in the seventh inning.

[+] EnlargeJackie Bradley
AP Photo/Kathy Willens "I just tried to do my best center field impression in left," said Bradley, who also went 1 for 4 with a double at the plate.
"We've had some discussions and we want to take a look at him in left field," Farrell said. "We reserve the right to change our minds and our plans. I wouldn't read anything into it other than getting him some exposure in left field in the event if certain things fall a given way, we want to be sure we cover all our bases."

The injury to David Ortiz has given the Red Sox a window to start the season with the 22-year-old prospect on the major league roster. The Sox could move outfielder Jonny Gomes to the designated hitter spot and use Bradley, a natural center fielder, to left field.

Before Friday, Bradley hadn't played left field since his high school days -- that is, in 2005, his freshman year at Prince George HS in Virginia.

"It felt different, but overall I felt good," said Bradley, who went 1 for 4 with a double at the plate. "I pretty much know the balls are going to go toward the line. I just tried to do my best center field impression in left."

Bradley had to make several plays in left -- this coming after he had already tracked down a few flyballs for outs while in center. He immediately was tested on a challenging drive by Adam Lind, which he recorded for an out in the seventh. He then caught a high pop-up in foul territory up against the fence in the eighth. He finished off his work in left with a nifty scenario in which he chased down a ball hit by Kevin Pillar and then threw a laser to the cutoff man to record an out at home on a player trying to score.

"He's a very good defensive outfielder, regardless of the position," Farrell said.

Farrell said Bradley, who is hitting a robust .429 this spring (21 for 49) with a 1.097 OPS, would see more time in left, possibly a few starts, over the final week of spring training so the Boston brass can make a decision.

"We'll take this final week and get him more exposure there," Farrell said.

Bradley said he wouldn't mind moving over to left if it meant being a part of the club.

"I'm up for any different position," said Bradley, who hasn't had any practice in left this spring. "Everyone works hard trying to get (to the Majors) and it would be special (to be on the Opening Day roster). I just want to play baseball."

When asked if he thought the possibility was there, Bradley conjured Kevin Garnett.

"Anything is possible," Bradley said.

* Alfredo Aceves made his third Grapefruit League start as the Red Sox look to stretch him out following his stint with Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.

Facing a Toronto lineup that resembled an Opening Day roster, Aceves held the Blue Jays scoreless over five innings while giving up just two hits and two walks.

"His versatility, his durability is invaluable," Farrell said. "He's a guy if he doesn't start for a while, you can call on him and he can give you four or five innings without being in a regular rotation and today he shows the ability to use his off-speed pitches behind in the count against some power lineups."

Aceves, who had 25 saves and appeared in 69 games last season, has pitched well this spring, with his best performance coming against the high-priced Blue Jays. Among his five strikeouts, he got Jose Bautista swinging and looking, and caught J.P. Arencibia looking twice.

Better yet, the 31-year-old right-hander eased his way out of trouble in the third. After allowing a lead-off double to Mark DeRosa and walking Jose Reyes with one out, Aceves forced Emilio Bonifacio into a fielder's choice before ending the inning with a flyout by Melky Cabrera.

"You can't underestimate the value of his versatility," Farrell said. "This is a guy who isn't afraid when he's on the mound. There's a calmness about him on the mound, even when he gets into tough situations, he's shown the ability to make a pitch."

Farrell can see Aceves having a similar year to his 2011 campaign, when he went 10-2 with a 2.61 ERA over 55 games and 114 innings. During that season, he started four contests, finished 15 games and had two saves while striking out 80 and walking 42, according to BaseballReference.com.

"I think the most important thing for Alfredo is that as long as we can begin to map some things out for him and a role emerges so he's understanding and he can think along with us when his time in the game would be coming up, or when he'd be used in certain situations," Farrell said. "We know we have a guy who's a dependable strike-thrower and is very durable."

Farrell said Aceves -- who tossed 73 pitchs, 44 for strikes -- would get at least one more multiple-inning stint, possibly two, over the next week.

* Xander Bogaerts made his first Grapefruit League start since returning from his time with Team Netherlands at the World Baseball Classic. The 20-year-old infield prospect started at shortstop and went 0-for-2 with one strikeout at the plate.

* Outfield prospect Bryce Brentz collected his second hit with the big league club this spring -- a double to center off Toronto starter J.A. Happ. Brentz also reached on a walk.

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