It has been a while since a youngster forced his way onto the Red Sox roster out of spring training.
It very well may have been Shea Hillenbrand, who impressed Jimy Williams enough in 2001 that the manager pushed Jose Offerman to the bench, shifted Chris Stynes to second base and inserted Hillenbrand as his Opening Day third baseman. Hillenbrand had never played above Double A.
More than a decade later, it’s too early to say another player could make a similar leap. But outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. has shown enough in just a few days since Grapefruit League games started to at least create the possibility in the mind of manager John Farrell.

“Is it completely far-fetched that he could make the team?” Farrell said. “Good question. I guess the best way to answer that is coming into camp, we didn’t have that as a strong possibility, but yet we’re four games into the game schedule and he could still be served well by getting more at-bats in the minor leagues before he comes up, but again, he’s making a very strong impression in camp.”
Bradley started in center field yesterday and went 1-for-3 with a single in a 15-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. He also tracked down a fly ball in front of the center field fence and continued to exhibit the outstanding defensive instincts that make him a potential Gold Glover, even if he doesn’t possess blazing speed.
“Every time he’s stepped on the field, he’s done something very positive,” Farrell said. “For a young player, he’s sound fundamentally. Defensively, he takes outstanding routes to some difficult plays in the outfield, even in the early going here. And he’s hit both left-handed and right-handed pitching. As we said (Monday), for a young player to make a positive impression in camp, he’s gotten off to a very good start.”
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