NEW YORK — Jackie Bradley Jr. was kicking back on Boston’s plane Saturday night, watching the Oscar-winning movie “Life 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. The Yankees host the Red Sox today at 1 p.m. on ESPN.
“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.”
Bradley tweeted his appreciation Sunday after the workout. In his twitter profile picture, Bradley is standing behind a sculpture of the No. 42, Jackie Robinson’s number.
“Thank you everyone for all of the congratulations! I appreciate all of the support. Glad to be apart of something special. Anything is possible,” Bradley tweeted.
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.
Even though starting Bradley in the big leagues right away could move up his arbitration and free agency eligibility, the Red Sox saw no reason to keep him down in the minors.
“He improves our outfield defense,” Farrell sad. “When you see the consistency of at-bats he put up, I feel like the strength in his mental approach will handle some of the distractions that will ultimately be thrown his way. One of the better players we had in spring training.”