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As Bradley audition continues, Farrell confirms Ellsbury, Drew roles

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff  March 24, 2013 11:38 AM

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CLEARWATER, Fla. – Two things we learned from John Farrell in this morning’s news briefing: even if Jackie Bradley were to make the 25-man roster, Jacoby Ellsbury remains the leadoff hitter, and even if Stephen Drew starts on the disabled list, the starting shortstop job is his when he’s ready.

Bradley is in left field and batting seventh against lefty Cliff Lee in today's game vs. the Phillies. The Red Sox basically have three center fielders in the lineup with Ellsbury in center and Shane Victorino in right.

The Red Sox have tried to test Bradley in the toughest situations. Facing Lee is one of them.

“This is the best environment to put him in away from our ballpark against a good pitcher. This will be a good situation for him. It’s more of a test than just the environment. But it’s the best environment we can put him in with a few days left in camp and the fact we’re going against a good lefthanded pitcher. Part of what we want to look at it is him in left field, but in a setting in spring training this presents,” Farrell explained.

Asked how he's handled the situations, Farrell said, "He hasn’t been in a prolonged slump. He’s taken a similar approach whether it’s against a lefthander or righthander. He’s hit lefthanders well. He handled Mike Dunn with the Marlins and put some good swings on pitches,” Farrell said.

Defensively?

“He’s gonna play any one of three positions well,” Farrell said.

Farrell admitted that run prevention is being factored in the decision of whether to keep Bradley.

"This outfield has a lot of range and covers a lot of ground,” Farrell said.

Farrell likened Bradley’s situation to that of Grady Sizemore in Cleveland back when Farrell was the player development director. He said he knew Sizemore was ready to be a big leaguer. When asked the same question of whether Bradley was ready to be a big leaguer he said, “Could be. He plays the game pretty damned well.”

Farrell said Sizemore was actually optioned out, but Juan Gonzalez got injured and Sizemore was recalled.

“My perspective was he was ready, but an injury opened up a spot for him,” Farrell said.

Farrell said Drew may be getting closer to taking the field, and while he still has an occasional concussion symptom, it has diminished.

“It would be ideal to get him into a game or two before camp breaks,” Farrell said. “We’ll see the way the next two days go.”

Farrell said no matter what happens, Ellsbury's spot in the lineup is determined.

“Yes, he’s our leadoff hitter,” Farrell said.

Farrell also indicated the top six batters in today's lineup could be the way it goes once the season starts, certainly against lefthanded starters.

Farrell said Drew will get his job as starting shortstop back when he's ready.

“He was signed for that reason (to be the starter),” Farrell said. “A temporary injury situation is not going to alter our course on that. That’s not to take anything away from Jose (Iglesias). He’s had a very good spring. There’s a different air about him in the box.”

Other notes:
• Jarrod Saltalamacchia was originally scheduled to play, but he had an incision to remove a mole on his back open up. As a precaution to help prevent infection, the Sox held him out and the medical staff thought it would be a couple of days to allow the opening to close up.

• David Ortiz continued to hit. The tentative plan is to keep him in Fort Myers to allow him to work at his own pace and start a running program. Ortiz has the ability to veto that and join the team.

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