Forget about service time. Forget about seasoning. Forget about the long-term view, caution, taking the safe path. If the Red Sox are serious about winning in 2013, Jackie Bradley Jr. will be in their lineup on Opening Day.

With all due respect to Mike Carp, Lyle Overbay, Ryan Sweeney and all of the other possible replacements for David Ortiz, none of them is the most exciting Red Sox prospect since Jacoby Ellsbury.

That distinction belongs to Bradley, and where he starts the year will tell us all we need to know about how interested the Red Sox are in winning now.

The case for Bradley is simple: He’s been the best player in camp since the day he arrived. After going 3-for-4 with a homer on Monday and adding another hit in his lone at-bat yesterday, he finds himself hitting .536 (15-for-28). Add flawless outfield defense, the fact that he’s homegrown, and the lack of compelling alternatives, and this decision should be a slam dunk.

And yet it’s not. The Red Sox continually suggest Bradley will open the season at Triple-A Pawtucket. They remind us he has yet to play above Double A. They want him to play every day. Were they so inclined, they could cite the success of Will Middlebrooks, who clearly benefited from his month in Triple A. And of course, left unsaid is that any delay in Bradley’s arrival could mean the difference between reaching free agency in six years or seven.

Listen to the myriad reasons why Bradley shouldn’t make the team, and it’s easy to convince yourself that one of them makes sense. But all they do is confuse the issue.