June 19, 2018
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Bradley Jr. to open season as Red Sox left fielder

By The Sports Xchange, Special to the BDN

NEW YORK — Hot prospect Jackie Bradley Jr., who played for the Portland Sea Dogs last season, will start in left field on opening day for the Boston Red Sox against the New York Yankees on Monday at 1:05 p.m.

The 22-year-old landed the roster spot after a fantastic spring. He hit .419 with two home runs, four doubles and 12 RBIs in 28 Grapefruit League games. Monday’s opener against the Yankees will be his first action above the Double-A level with Portland where he hit .271 for the Sea Dogs a year ago in 61 games with six homers, 29 RBIs and eight stolen bases. He also had 16 doubles and two triples.

Bradley played 67 games in high Class A and 61 games in double-A last season. Combined, his impressive totals included a .315 batting average with 42 doubles, four triples, nine homers, 63 RBIs, 90 runs and 24 stolen bases.

The Red Sox are juggling their lineup to start the season while David Ortiz is on the disabled list, Jonny Gomes will be the designated hitter and Bradley will join Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino in the outfield.

The Red Sox are coming off their worst season since 1965. The Yankees may be staring at their toughest campaign in the Derek Jeter era. The Yankees have been the most successful franchise in baseball since the strike-shortened 1994 season, but age and injuries are starting to catch up to the club. The Red Sox will try to take advantage.

Jeter, Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson will all be starting the season on the disabled list for New York, leaving veterans like recently acquired Vernon Wells and former Boston star Kevin Youkilis attempting to fill holes by recovering All-Star form from many seasons ago.

What the Yankees do still have is starting pitching and a strong bullpen backed by Mariano Rivera.

The Red Sox are hoping modest changes to the roster and a new coaching staff can breathe some new life into the team, beginning with a starting rotation that struggled mightily in 2012.

Pitching matchup: Red Sox LH Jon Lester (2012: 9-14, 4.82 ERA) vs. Yankees LH CC Sabathia (15-6, 3.38).

Lester suffered through his worst season in 2012, posting his first losing record and highest career ERA while allowing batters to hit a robust .273. The lefthander allowed two runs on eight hits in 24 innings this spring and is determined to bounce back. “There’s a little bit of a chip there,” Lester told the team’s website. “I want to prove that last year was a fluke and it’s not going to happen again.”

He is 9-4 with a 4.10 ERA in 22 career starts against New York.

Sabathia had surgery to remove a bone spur from his left elbow in October but has not had any problems this spring. The burly lefthander has been waiting for the opener to erase the memory of his final start of 2012, when he was knocked around for six runs — five earned — on 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings by the Detroit Tigers in the final game of the American League Championship Series.

Sabathia owns an 8-9 record with a 4.23 ERA in 22 career starts against Boston.

Notebook: Red Sox DH David Ortiz (Achilles’ tendon) and SS Stephen Drew (concussion) will not be available on opening day. … The Yankees picked up veteran 1B Lyle Overbay after he had been let go by Boston during the spring. Overbay is expected to play against righthanded starters. … New York will start a season without Jeter at shortstop for the first time since 2001.

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