August 18, 2014 at 5:00 PM
The Red Sox announced that they have recalled Mookie Betts from Pawtucket, while optioning Jackie Bradley, Jr. down to Pawtucket to make room on the roster. The move is somewhat surprising given that Bradley had reached base in eight of his last 20 plate appearances, but his .216/.288/.290 triple slash in 348 at-bats was not good enough despite his superb defense in center field. As Alex Speier of WEEI.com notes, Bradley can be called up in September when rosters expand, saving one of Bradley's two remaining options, as his minor league assignment will have been less than 20 days.
While Bradley has struggled in Boston, Betts has been on a tear in Triple-A, collecting five multi-hit games in his 11 appearances since being optioned to Pawtucket on August 7. He has played center field in 10 of those 11 contests, and it is likely he will be the full-time center fielder for the Red Sox for the next few weeks, and possibly the rest of the season. If he is in fact done with Pawtucket, he will leave there with a final line of .335/.417/.503, with 11 steals and 19 extra-base hits in 45 games.
Bradley is likely focusing on mechanical adjustments to his swing and building confidence with the PawSox. He does not need any work on his defense, as his 14 defensive runs saved tied him for first among American League center fielders. A Gold Glove-caliber defender, Bradley does not need to be an elite hitter to make an impact, but a 29 percent strikeout rate and a slugging percentage under .300 for a hitter who has a career minor league line of .297/.404/.471 with a strikeout rate of 21 percent suggests that something is off mechanically, mentally, or both. Bradley is in the lineup tonight for the PawSox, playing center field.
Photo Credit: Mookie Betts by Kelly O'Connor