Jackie Bradley makes Red Sox roster

Updated: April 1, 2013, 11:54 AM ET
By Gordon Edes | ESPNBoston.com

NEW YORK -- Somewhere over the Eastern seaboard, on the flight carrying the Boston Red Sox to New York Saturday night, manager John Farrell broke the news to Jackie Bradley Jr. that he not only had made the team but would be starting in left field Monday in Yankee Stadium.

"At 35,000 feet," Farrell said, "he can't jump any higher."

Actually, Farrell said, the 22-year-old Bradley, the first rookie to draw an Opening Day starting assignment for the Red Sox since Shea Hillenbrand in 2001 and the youngest Opening Day left fielder for the Sox since Carl Yastrzemski in 1961 and '62, was not particularly demonstrative when he received the news.

"Like he's handled everything else, he didn't jump up and down," Farrell said Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, where the Red Sox held a voluntary workout. "He took it in stride. I think it speaks to the maturity of where he is as a person."

"I'm pretty excited," Bradley said. "I think it really hasn't hit me yet, until my name is called and then I'm pretty sure I'll go numb a little bit. It's great, it's an honor and I can't wait."

Excited, naturally, but nervous?

"I don't really get nervous," Bradley said. "I just try to relax. I'm a pretty easygoing guy. So nerves don't really get to me much."

Bradley said he felt some relief when finally getting the word from Farrell.

"I was watching 'Life of Pi,' kind of hanging out," he said. "It was kind of like closure. It was good to have a little closure. Finally it's official."

Farrell did not reveal the rest of his starting lineup for Monday, other than to say that Jonny Gomes would serve as DH and that the man catching Jon Lester is "to be determined." He did, however, explain what went into the decision to name Bradley his starting left fielder, a position occupied in Boston in the past by three Hall of Famers -- Ted Williams, Yastrzemski and Jim Rice -- and another man, Manny Ramirez, whose credentials are Hall of Fame worthy, though his suspensions for PED use figure to hurt his chances.

"He improves our outfield defense," Farrell said. "He showed a very consistent approach at the plate. A lot of people might want to maybe target the batting average, but in our evaluation it goes much deeper than that, when you see the consistency of at-bats he put up.

"We feel like the strength in his mental approach will handle some of the distractions that ultimately will be thrown his way, and he was one of the better players we had in spring training. And the need because of the David [Ortiz] and Stephen [Drew] situations to add another left-handed bat, a number of things came together and he earned that spot in the roster."

Bradley hit .419 (26-for-62) for the spring with a .507 on-base percentage and .613 slugging percentage.

To make room for Bradley on the 40-man roster, infielder Mauro Gomez was designated for assignment.

The Bradley decision has been a hot topic in Red Sox camp, with the issue of service time at the center of the debate.

If Bradley stayed in the minors until April 12, he would not be able to accrue a year of major league service time this season, pushing his first possible year of free agency to after the 2019 season. Bradley's service-time clock still could be delayed if he plays 20 or more days cumulatively in the minors over the course of the season.

The Red Sox also placed pitchers Craig Breslow (left shoulder tendinitis) and Franklin Morales (lower back strain), and DH Ortiz (right Achilles tendinopathy) on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 22.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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