Jackie Bradley Jr. was kicking back on Boston’s plane Saturday night, watching the Oscar-winning movieLife of Pi, when manager John Farrell interrupted with news: The dynamic outfielder had made Boston’s Opening Day roster.
“At 35,000 feet, he couldn’t jump any higher,” Farrell said Sunday.
Taken with the 40th overall pick in the 2011 amateur draft, the former South Carolina star batted .419 with a .507 on-base percentage in spring training. He has never having played above Double-A.
But there he was Sunday, still a few weeks from his 23rd birthday, taking hacks in the batting cage at Yankee Stadium and getting a good ribbing from his excitable teammate Dustin Pedroia.
“I think it really hasn’t hit me yet – until my name is called,” Bradley said, “then I’m pretty sure I’ll go numb a little bit.”
The Red Sox had intended to start Bradley in the minor leagues this season but their thinking began to change about halfway through camp. The spot then became open because David Ortiz and Stephen Drew are injured.
To make room for Bradley on the 40-man roster, infielder Mauro Gomez was designated for assignment.
YANKEES: When Robinson Cano runs out to his position at second base today at Yankee Stadium and looks to his right, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez will be missing. A glance to the left, and no Mark Teixeira.
Cano can check the trainer’s room if he needs to find a familiar face.
“You don’t want to see anybody get hurt, but it’s part of life. Hopefully, they get well soon,” Cano said. “Hopefully, we can just stay in the race until whenever they get back, and when we get them back and they help us to make it all the way to the playoffs.”
Fans might need to consult their programs when the defending AL East champions take the field against the revamped Boston Red Sox for the 111th Opening Day in franchise history today. Jeter (ankle) will not be at shortstop in an opener for the first time since 2001. Teixeira (wrist) and Curtis Granderson (forearm) are out at least until May and Rodriguez (hip) won’t be back until the All-Star break if at all this season.
In place of the injured and departed is a collection of retreads and castoffs.
Vernon Wells, a late-spring training acquisition from the Los Angeles Angels, will start in left field. Lyle Overbay gets the nod at first base, six days after being cut by the Red Sox. Former Boston star Kevin Youkilis was the Yankees lone big free-agent signing, brought in as a $12 million placeholder for A-Rod. Ben Francisco could be the designated hitter against lefty Jon Lester, a former Augusta GreenJacket.
“It’s still the Yankees, it’s still going to be a good lineup,” Lester said Sunday. “They’re going to put quality at-bats together.
MARLINS: Top pitching prospect Jose Fernandez was added to roster and is scheduled make his major-league debut next Sunday against the Mets in New York.
The move was necessitated because of injuries to right-handers Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez. Both had been expected to be part of the rotation, but instead they’ll start the season on the disabled list.
The 20-year-old Fernandez was the Marlins’ first-round draft pick in 2011.
RAYS: Placed designated hitter Luke Scott on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right calf and designated catchers Stephen Vogt and Robinson Chirinos for assignment in moves that helped the team set the roster.
MARINERS: Designated outfielder Casper Wells for assignment and kept former All-Star Jason Bay on the Opening Day roster as the club’s fifth outfielder.
Seattle also Sunday selected the contract of right-hander D.J. Mitchell to the 40-man roster, then optioned him to Triple-A Tacoma. By adding Mitchell, it allowed them to make the move with Wells, who was out of options and couldn’t go to Tacoma. Seattle has 10 days to trade, release him or send him outright to the minors.