EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

March 27, 2013

Let Jackie play now!

Sox need to start right and Bradley Jr. is the spark

Not to trump the Monday column by The Eagle-Tribune’s esteemed card-carrying member of the Baseball Writers Association of America, Chris Smith, but he is wrong about whether the Red Sox should have Jackie Bradley Jr. in the opening day lineup.

Smith wrote the Red Sox should send Bradley Jr. to Triple-A Pawtucket. That would keep him under Boston’s control for seven years rather than six and also save them potentially millions in that final year.

If they keep him in the minors for just 10 davs to begin the season, they gain that extra year.

But the Red Sox need Bradley Jr. much, much more than he needs them.

This is the first season in a long time that I remember so few people caring about the Red Sox.

I guess I could go back to Butch Hobson in the early 1990s, but at least he had the lightning rod himself, Roger Clemens.

The fried chicken and beer debacle of 2011, the collapse in September that same season, the vilification of the fired Terry Francona, and the Bobby Valentine Nightmare still resonate.

I hate to say it. But I’m already in wait-’til-next-year mode.

But there is one caveat to this apathy, one reason to stay tuned after opening day:

Jackie Bradley Jr.

Heck, before I even saw the guy, I liked his name.

Anybody that carries the Jr. — I’m a junior, too, but the only way you’d know it is by looking at my bank card — has some moxie.

I know some of his stats have been at Hall of Fame levels all spring — his average is .444, 24 for 54, with two HRs and 11 RBI — but he has been more than fodder for Bill James’ Geek Club.

Bradley Jr. has been a spark.

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