Bradley Jr. Already Seasoned

To label Jackie Bradley Jr. as motivated would be an understatement - a drastic understatement. The way he approaches baseball is very child-like yet very mature, as well. He loves the game, and it is evident every time he steps on the field, whether it's during practice or a game.

During the offseason, Bradley's main concern was gaining all the strength and mobility back in his left wrist from an injury he sustained in college at South Carolina.

"I was healthy enough to play in the College World Series, but I needed to get my strength back and get to the point where I'm not thinking about it in the back of my head," Bradley said.

By the time Spring Training rolled around, Bradley was able to jump back into the swing of things and be his normal self.

"I was playing how I know I'm capable of playing," Bradley said. "I'm trying to remain healthy throughout the season to play at a high level."

So far this season, that level certainly has been a high one. Through 31 games, Bradley is batting .389 with 32 runs, three homers and 24 runs batted in. With the help from his 26 walks, Bradley is reaching base half the time he comes to the plate [.507 on-base percentage], a ridiculous number especially from a leadoff hitter.

"I'm not afraid to get in an 0-2 hole," Bradley said. "And that comes with confidence. I'm confident enough to battle back and fight off whatever the pitcher has to offer, and I'm willing to take if it's not my pitch."

The grace and enthusiasm with which Bradley plays the game has started to rub off on some people, particularly hitting coach Rich Gedman.

"It's actually fun coming to the park to watch a player with such enthusiasm," Gedman said. "He doesn't have to raise his level of play; he plays at a high level every night, offensively and defensively. Jackie is always hustling and striving to get better in each phase of the game."

Billy McMillon, manager of the Salem Sox, thinks the best thing for Bradley is to just stay healthy and play as many games he possibly can.

"The biggest thing for him is getting more experience," McMillon said. "The more he sees, the better he'll be. He's a very bright kid, he draws on experiences, not only his but also what he sees other guys do. There's no reason to think that he won't get to the big leagues if he stays healthy and continues what he's doing. He's got a chance to play for a long time."

Gedman recognizes the kind of special player that is Jackie Bradley and knows the potential for a player like that is sky high.

"The sky is the limit as long as he maintains his approach to the game," Gedman said. "He's seasoned already beyond his years."

With the success of Bradley's first professional season, it's difficult to imagine there's a whole lot of room for improvement. Not true, according to Bradley.

"Every day is a day of improvement," Bradley said. "I could use work on every area, even the areas I think I'm doing well on. I'm just being myself, not trying to do too much.

"I'm seeing pitches and just going with where they're pitched. I try to see a lot of pitches to get a feel for what the pitcher's throwing, not only for myself but for my teammates."


Diehard Magazine Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nDuring the offseason, Bradley's main concern was gaining all the strength and mobility back in his left wrist from an injury he sustained in college at South Carolina.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was healthy enough to play in the College World Series, but I needed to get my strength back and get to the point where I'm not thinking about it in the back of my head,\" Bradley said.
\r\n
\r\nBy the time Spring Training rolled around, Bradley was able to jump back into the swing of things and be his normal self.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was playing how I know I'm capable of playing,\" Bradley said. \"I'm trying to remain healthy throughout the season to play at a high level.\"
\r\n
\r\nSo far this season, that level certainly has been a high one. Through 31 games, Bradley is batting .389 with 32 runs, three homers and 24 runs batted in. With the help from his 26 walks, Bradley is reaching base half the time he comes to the plate [.507 on-base percentage], a ridiculous number especially from a leadoff hitter.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm not afraid to get in an 0-2 hole,\" Bradley said. \"And that comes with confidence. I'm confident enough to battle back and fight off whatever the pitcher has to offer, and I'm willing to take if it's not my pitch.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe grace and enthusiasm with which Bradley plays the game has started to rub off on some people, particularly hitting coach Rich Gedman.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's actually fun coming to the park to watch a player with such enthusiasm,\" Gedman said. \"He doesn't have to raise his level of play; he plays at a high level every night, offensively and defensively. Jackie is always hustling and striving to get better in each phase of the game.\"
\r\n
\r\nBilly McMillon, manager of the Salem Sox, thinks the best thing for Bradley is to just stay healthy and play as many games he possibly can.
\r\n
\r\n\"The biggest thing for him is getting more experience,\" McMillon said. \"The more he sees, the better he'll be. He's a very bright kid, he draws on experiences, not only his but also what he sees other guys do. There's no reason to think that he won't get to the big leagues if he stays healthy and continues what he's doing. He's got a chance to play for a long time.\"
\r\n
\r\nGedman recognizes the kind of special player that is Jackie Bradley and knows the potential for a player like that is sky high.
\r\n
\r\n\"The sky is the limit as long as he maintains his approach to the game,\" Gedman said. \"He's seasoned already beyond his years.\"
\r\n
\r\nWith the success of Bradley's first professional season, it's difficult to imagine there's a whole lot of room for improvement. Not true, according to Bradley.
\r\n
\r\n\"Every day is a day of improvement,\" Bradley said. \"I could use work on every area, even the areas I think I'm doing well on. I'm just being myself, not trying to do too much.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm seeing pitches and just going with where they're pitched. I try to see a lot of pitches to get a feel for what the pitcher's throwing, not only for myself but for my teammates.\"
\r\n
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