Confident Bradley unfazed by slump

April, 12, 2013
4/12/13
6:03
PM ET
BOSTON -- After Friday's Boston Red Sox game against the Tampa Bay Rays was postponed due to inclement weather at Fenway Park, Red Sox phenom Jackie Bradley Jr. was sitting at his locker inside the clubhouse and appeared as confident as ever.

Despite the rookie's recent 0-for-14 slump at the plate, he's not concerned with his lack of offense because he feels it's only a matter of time before he breaks out of it. Overall, he's 3-for-25 (.120) with eight strikeouts and six walks in eight games.

[+] EnlargeJackie Bradley Jr.
Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images"Everything will come around like it should and I'm willing to work at it," Jackie Bradley Jr. said.
"It's one of those periods, man," he said. "Every hitter goes through it. I'm willing to work through it and it's definitely not going to affect me in the long run."

His focus since earning a spot on the Opening Day roster as the club's starting left fielder has been to maintain a routine both mentally and physically. Given the fact he's only 22 and this is his first taste of the big leagues, some struggles are to be expected. Still, getting an unscheduled day off due to Friday's postponement could be a blessing.

"A day off for someone when they're grinding a little bit can be a breather, and we're hopeful today is one of those for him," said Red Sox manager John Farrell.

It's too early in Bradley's big league career for him to give an accurate account of his transition because everything is still new to him.

"I guess we've got to get to a couple of weeks first," he said. "It's been a pretty long week dealing with family, too. It's a whole lot of aspects that go into it. It's been great. Everything will come around like it should and I'm willing to work at it."

Even though he was on an offensive tear during spring training, once the regular season began he's found out how good pitchers are at this level. The opposition has been mixing and matching pitches with him, and Farrell believes pitchers have exploited the inside half of the plate on Bradley.

"It doesn't look like to me that he's overswinging the bat, or trying to make up for previous at-bats, but he knows he's gotten some pitches that he hasn't quite squared up as he's done previously," Farrell said. "The one thing that hasn't changed is he's still fought his way back deep into counts. He'll drive a pitch count up, but they've exploited that inside part of the plate on him."

Bradley has the mental toughness to deal with such a slump, and at this point he's confident he'll be able to work his way out of it. He understands the sample size is still too small, so he's not putting any added pressure on himself to deliver at the plate.

"All it is is just taking the time, sitting down and making the adjustments. I'm not doing anything differently. I'm being the same ballplayer I am and sticking with the same approach, and hits will start falling."

He's been watching video of his at-bats and he's still trying to learn how pitchers are deciding to throw to him. Bradley has been working in the cage as he normally would and he's trying not to press too much, because that would only make things worse.

"The greatest teacher is what goes on between the lines," Farrell said. "He's dealing with that firsthand and that's not something you're going to necessarily work on in the cage, or video review. It's right there in front of him, so I'm sure his survival skills will kick in, and are kicking in as we speak."

No matter what he was asked about his struggles, and how he could fix it, Bradley showed the confidence that helped him reach this level so early in his career.

"I can only get stronger. I can only get better," he said. "It'll all work out. I'm going to keep learning. I'm going to keep fighting. I'm going to keep grinding."

The fact there's so much to deal with off the field, too, has been one of the biggest surprises for Bradley.

"How much other stuff you do and have to deal with a day, and not just dealing with baseball. It's all just an adjustment period. I'll be just fine -- I promise."

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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