Jackie Bradley Jr. has made two trips to Major League Spring Training with the Red Sox. The two have told different stories and had completely different endings.
One year removed from winning a spot on the Major League roster following a stellar spring, the No. 3 Red Sox prospect will instead start the 2014 season with Triple-A Pawtucket after a difficult Grapefruit League campaign.
Bradley was the presumed favorite for the defending World Series champions' starting center fielder role come Opening Day. That job will instead go to Grady Sizemore -- the three-time All-Star whose reclamation story has been the headline of the spring in Fort Myers.
As such, the position battle between the two should be viewed as Sizemore having won the gig rather than Bradley having lost it. Sizemore, who signed a one-year Major League deal with Boston in the offseason despite having not played in the bigs since 2011, batted .333 with a homer, two doubles and two RBIs while playing solid defense in Grapefruit League play. More importantly, he showed the requisite durability the Red Sox needed to see in order to feel comfortable naming him the starter.
Bradley, meanwhile, struggled at the plate, batting just .158 with 17 strikeouts in 61 plate appearances. The 23-year-old was able to showcase his plus defensive capabilities, but in the end, those weren't enough to keep him with the big club.
"We all didn't see Jackie Bradley Jr. this spring training," Bradley told the Boston Herald's Scott Lauber.
The 40th overall pick in 2011, Bradley batted .419 with two home runs in 28 games last spring. Because of that impressive display, the Red Sox decided to keep him on the 25-man roster entering the 2013 season. After going 3-for-31 through his first 12 games, Bradley was optioned to Triple-A ball, where he hit .275/.374/.469 in 80 games with the PawSox.
He was recalled three times during the season and finished with a .189/.280/.337 line with three homers and 10 RBIs in 37 games.
The Red Sox starting center field job opened up this past offseason when free agent Jacoby Ellsbury departed to sign a seven-year deal with the Yankees.