CLEARWATER, Fla. — Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell called it a test when he put Jackie Bradley Jr. in the starting lineup Sunday, playing left field and facing renowned left-hander Cliff Lee.
After the game, Farrell smiled.
“He passed,” Farrell said.
Bradley swatted a three-run home run in the second inning and then added a sacrifice fly in the third inning of Sunday’s exhibition game against the Phillies, won by Boston 7-6.
Bradley, 22, keeps getting closer to making the major league roster for opening day April 1. He is batting .423 this spring while playing excellent defense.
“Always great to see a young kid on the brink,” veteran outfielder Shane Victorino said. “He’s put himself in a great position to be on the big league team.”
While Bradley is normally a center fielder who can also play right, his placement in left field Sunday was significant. With designated hitter David Ortiz still injured, the Red Sox could use regular left fielder Jonny Gomes as the DH, and put Bradley in left, joining the equally-fast Jacoby Ellsbury and Victorino.
“Obviously that’s a scenario,” Farrell said. “That’s an outfield that has a lot of range and can cover a lot of ground.”
At the plate, the left-handed Bradley has shown he can hit left-handed pitching (.409 this spring), even when the lefty is Cliff Lee.
“I try to treat every pitcher the same,” Bradley said. “He still has to throw it across the plate. I try not to let the lefty-lefty thing get in my head.”
With two runners on, Bradley worked a 2-1 count before smacking a fastball into the Clearwater jet stream and over the left field wall.
“You can say all you want about the conditions, wind-aided and all, he still put a good swing on the ball,” Farrell said. “I thought he picked a good pitch the next time up for the sacrifice fly.”
Bradley finished 1-for-3 (two strikeouts) and four RBI.
In the field, Bradley looked smooth, except for a shallow fly ball in the wind. Third baseman Will Middlebrooks was backing up. Bradley called him off at the last second, but could not get under the ball, as it bounced off his glove.
“I was looking at the ball the whole time. I didn’t see Will waving his hands,” Bradley said. “I should have still made the play. Bad on my part.”
But the bad is easily being overshadowed.
“He did a very good job,” Farrell said.
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Ellsbury left the game after the first inning after rolling his right ankle on a pick off play. Ellsbury jumped back to first base, jamming his right heel into the bag.
He stayed in the game, was caught stealing and then played an inning in center field before leaving.
“It just got real tight. Nothing of a concern,” said Ellsbury, who added who could have kept playing if it was a regular-season game.
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Victorino moved to center from right field after Ellsbury came out. He almost hurt himself in the second inning, crashing into the wall, catching a Ryan Howard blast. Victorino stayed down momentarily before standing up.
“I was running out of center fielders,” quipped Farrell.
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Brandon Workman made the start for the Red Sox, pitching three innings. Workman, who is bound for Portland next month, allowed two runs on three hits and two walks.
Workman shows great command, but walked lead-off batter Ben Revere.
“It wasn’t so much nerves as it was Adrenaline,” Workman said. “I was excited to be up there in a big league game. Big league hitters.”
Catcher Ryan Lavarnway threw Revere out, trying to steal. Workman retired the next six batters, striking out Chase Utley.
In the third, Workman allowed two ground ball singles up the middle and an Utley single for two runs. He ended the outing, getting Howard to pop up.
Farrell said Workman would have pitched longer but, with rain threatening, he wanted to make sure relievers Andrew Bailey and Daniel Bard got in.
“He ran into a little bit of a stretch where he had a hard time getting the ball down,” Farrell said. “Overall, a heavy fastball, good breaking ball. More importantly, you look at the body language and how they handle this environment, and it was good.”
Workman was still excited after the game.
“I’ve watched (the Phillies) play in the World Series and all,” he said. “Really cool to pitch and see how my stuff played against that quality of lineup.”
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Mike Napoli and Jose Iglesias both had three hits … Bailey allowed no hits and no walks in his inning of work. Bard gave up two singles (one a bunt) and struck out three … Utley and Howard homered off Class A pitcher Noe Ramirez in the eighth to tie the game … Boston scored the winner in the ninth on singles from Xander Bogaerts, Bryce Brentz and Shannon Wilkerson.