Jackie Bradley Jr.‘s time will come, perhaps sooner rather than later. But despite his impressive spring showing so far, and John Farrell‘s recent vote of confidence, the Red Sox would be wise to begin the season with the highly touted prospect at Triple-A Pawtucket. Bradley has turned heads down in Florida in a very short time this spring, hitting .556 (5-for-9), which includes gathering three hits and getting on base four times against the Blue Jays on Monday. When you toss in the great instincts he’s shown and the impressive routes he’s taken to the baseball in center field — staples in Bradley’s all-around defensive game — it’s easy to see why the 22-year-old might find his big league ETA get pushed up. But as exciting as the thought of Bradley patrolling the Fenway Park outfield is, and as much energy as he’d provide a club that so desperately needs it after last season’s disappointment, the Sox need to understand the risk/reward benefit that comes with rushing Bradley to the big leagues. Many figure Bradley to be Jacoby Ellsbury‘s successor if Ellsbury elects to sign elsewhere in free agency after this season. Others even insist the Red Sox should deal Ellsbury at some point during the year, which would, in turn, open up a spot for Bradley. Until Ellsbury is out of the mix, though, Bradley should continue to be groomed so that he’s placed in an ideal situation when he finally reaches the major league level. Bradley made it clear recently that he’d be willing to play either of the corner outfield positions if it meant playing in the majors. Then again, that willingness is something that’s fairly obvious when you’re talking about a prospect who’s looking for his first taste of The Show. No one envisions Bradley making a full-time transition to a corner outfield spot, though, so why rush him to the majors now, force him to adapt to such a role, and thus risk stunting his development as a center fielder? The more logical move instead is to take a patient approach and only call up Bradley when the stars are aligned, or do so later on during the season when the Red Sox know exactly where the club stands.

Read more at: http://nesn.com/2013/02/jackie-bradley-jr-could-make-impact-with-red-sox-in-2013-but-outfielder-shouldnt-crack-opening-day-roster/