FORT MYERS, Fla. — The legend of Jackie Bradley continues to grow.
Sox manager John Farrell was talking this morning about a moment in Saturday's game against the Twins when Bradley, who was playing right field, for the first time this spring, shouted over at the other outfielders to shift over.
Bradley has shown an amazing ability to tracks balls in the outfield and that judgment is not all instinctive. It also comes from Bradley going full-speed after balls in practice and studying hitters and situations.
"He's shifting the entire outfield to the opposite direction given the count," Farrell said. "His awareness inside the game and the precision to his routes and the consistency to the at-bats kind of covers it all. He's had a hell of a camp."
Farrell was asked to expand on what Bradley did against the Twins.
"He's playing the wind and he's playing the count and the stuff of the guy on the mound at that time. You've got a power righthander [pitcher] against a righthanded hitter who's down in the count and probably looking to protect, and, in advance, he's whistling and hollering to the center fielder and the left fielder to shift. It was a heady play."
Farrell has talked several times about the routes Bradley takes to fly falls. The best outfielders know the shortest way to a ball in the air. Others, and Jacoby Ellsbury is an example of this, sometimes get poor jumps and use their speed to track down a ball.
But Bradley makes it look easy.
"Their instincts kick in. I can't say he's on the move before the ball gets in the hitting zone, but sometimes it almost looks that way. He's got incredible vision. You're 250 feet from home plate, and yet he's run to the spot," Farrell said. "His instincts and depth perception and routes have been very impressive."