In a move startling only for its timing, the Red Sox have optioned center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. to Triple-A Pawtucket and recalled outfielder-infielder Mookie Betts, who will join Boston for the third time this season.

Betts will start in center field for the Red Sox when they open a four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels on Monday. Bradley will be starting in center field for the PawSox on Monday night in McCoy Stadium.

Manager John Farrell explained the timing of Monday's moves.

"Felt like right now it was an opportunity to take advantage of the remaining three weeks left in the minor league season [for Bradley]," Farrell said. "Hopefully to gain some confidence and some momentum when he comes back here. That's the reason for now."

Despite his season-long struggles at the plate, the Sox had resisted demoting Bradley, whose .216 batting average is the lowest by a starting center fielder in the American League (minimum 300 at-bats) since Mike Cameron batted .210 in 1998.

Bradley also had an 0-for-35 drought -- the longest hitless streak in the majors this season -- and his slugging percentage (.290) is the lowest among all major leaguers with enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title.