Saturday, April 13, 2013
Lineup: Hot Nava in, cold Bradley out
By Tony Lee, Special to ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- It was not a complete shock to see Jackie Bradley Jr.'s name left off the Red Sox lineup card Saturday. Tampa Bay had ace left-hander David Price on the mound and young Bradley is scuffling.
Still, not giving Bradley playing time (he has sat two of the last four games) somewhat flies in the face of conventional organizational desire to have young, developing players on the roster only if they are going to play regularly. The fact that the other true option to play left field was Daniel Nava, who is 1-for-15 lifetime against Price, suggests a slight opening to give Bradley the tough assignment.
But Nava, who is 2-for-2 with a home run against southpaws this year, has earned the right to get regular at-bats.
"Talked about how confident Daniel is right now and I think at some point in this game the ability to break up those right-handers is going to be needed without too much pinch-hitting or really emptying the bench to match up," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "That's why Daniel is in the middle of this. I realize he's 1-for-15 against Price. I think overall he's put up very good at-bats consistently as anyone in our lineup on either side of the lineup."
The slump by Bradley, Nava's hot bat and David Ortiz's pending return suggests that the youngster's days are numbered in the majors. However, the Sox face right-handers in at least their next four games, and Farrell isn't ready to make any declarations on Bradley's status.
"It is a balance," Farrell said. "Going up against a guy like Price or [Baltimore left-hander Wei-Yin Chen] with some of the recent developments with Jackie over the last three, four days, still wanting to put the most competitive lineup we can on the field. We're not here to say that there's roster changes that are going to take place just because Jackie's not playing for the second time in four games, that's not what we're here about. We'll continue to find the right combinations and that will include Jackie in different scenarios as well."
Bradley is 0-for-11 with five strikeouts in his last four games. Nava is 5-for-12 with three home runs and six RBIs in the same span.