Jackie Bradley Jr.'s first trip to the Major Leagues wasn't a particularly productive one at the plate. Instead of any major hitting adjustments, it may have just taken a move to Triple-A Pawtucket and a shift of a couple dozen feet in the outfield to get everything back in place.
MLB.com's No. 32 overall prospect went 3-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and an intentional walk Monday night in Pawtucket's 8-2 win over Rochester for his first multi-hit game of the season at any level.
The three hits matched his total from his short-lived stay with the Red Sox in the Majors, where he was 3-for-31 (.097) in 12 games while being used primarily as a left fielder batting in the lower depths of the lineup before being optioned to Pawtucket to make room for David Ortiz's return. That difficult stretch followed an impressive Spring Training campaign, during which the natural center fielder hit .419 with a pair of home runs and 10 RBIs.
But by the end of his time with Boston -- leaders of the AL East with a 13-6 record in the early going -- Bradley found himself out of the starting lineup for three straight games in favor of the hot-hitting Daniel Nava, who is batting .320 with four homers and 14 RBIs for the Sox.
Back in center and in the leadoff spot Monday, Bradley seemed to find his comfort zone.
"It was nice to get things going again," he said. "I'm definitely starting to feel back in the swing of things a little bit. I feel like I'm seeing the ball a lot better out there, which obviously helps. I'm a pretty rhythmic hitter, so when everything starts going well, it's easier to maintain that."
The left-handed-hitting No. 2 Red Sox prospect started the game with a first-pitch single off Red Wings starter Liam Hendriks in the first. He opened the scoring with a two-run base hit in the third -- his first two RBIs at the Triple-A level -- and added his first double in the seventh. The 23-year-old was intentionally walked and came around to score on Ryan Lavarnway's single as part of a six-run ninth for the PawSox.
Bradley, who has turned heads for his defensive prowess, added his move back to center field may have had just as much to do with his most recent offensive turnaround as anything else.
"It's more of a comfort zone for me," said the former University of South Carolina star, who is 4-for-12 in his first three games with Pawtucket. "I was playing more at the corners up there, which was fine, but I feel more relaxed when I'm in center. I'm absolutely not saying I can't play in the corners, but everything just feels better when I'm over there in center.
"As a position player, you have offense and defense to balance each other out. When something's going well, it makes everything easier on the other thing. When something is struggling, you have to find a way to pick something up. Defense was that for me. It could balance things out when my offense wasn't going well."
Still, Bradley expressed no disappointments for his time with the big club, struggles and all.
"It wasn't even a little bit frustrating at all because we were winning," he said. "Everyone wants to play every day obviously, but sometimes that's not going to happen. But I know my time will come, and when it does, I'll be ready."
Bradley wasn't the only former Boston starter to put on a show for Pawtucket on Monday. Jose Iglesias, who also started Opening Day for the Red Sox but was squeezed out of the lineup by Stephen Drew's return, went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and a stolen base in the win.
Boston's No. 6 prospect is 10-for-38 (.263) with two homers, two doubles and eight RBIs in 10 games since joining the PawSox on April 11. The two home runs already represent a career high for the Cuban shortstop, whose glove has long been considered Major League-worthy while his bat has lagged. But given his start in Triple-A and his six-game stint with Boston (9-for-20, two doubles), the 23-year-old is doing his best to change that perception.
"He spent his time up there doing great things, and he's trying to show everyone that he's not just a slap hitter," Pawtucket manager Gary DiSarcina told MiLB.com on April 11. "He's looked good and had a great attitude. Hopefully, we don't have him too long."
PawSox starter Terry Doyle did not earn a decision, despite taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning. He finished with two earned runs on five hits over six frames. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.48 ERA in four International League starts.