FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Without question, Jackie Bradley Jr. has been turning heads at Red Sox camp.
It seems like every time he is on the field -- be it with the bat, his glove or his legs -- Bradley is making something happen. Bradley started Tuesday's game against the Cardinals by making what looked like an effortless catch against the wall in center field. Batting in the leadoff spot, Bradley started Boston's first with an infield hit.
A reporter asked Red Sox manager John Farrell the following question on Tuesday morning: "Is it completely far-fetched that he could make the team?"
Though it still seems likely Bradley, who is ranked the No. 2 prospect in the Red Sox's farm system by MLB.com, will open the season at Triple-A, Farrell did not dismiss the notion entirely.
"Good question," Farrell said. "I guess the best way to answer that is coming into camp, we didn't have that as a strong possibility. 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."
As players like Bryce Harper and Mike Trout have proved in recent years, rushing a prospect to the Majors sometimes has no drawback.
How will the Red Sox know when a top prospect like Bradley -- the 40th overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft -- is ready for the Majors?
"Well, the player tells you and a lot of the little things inside of a game. Defensively, he's very accomplished, as we're talking about Jackie," Farrell said. "But again, it's going to be how he fares against quality pitching as we go through camp. And then ultimately you're talking about the person, and more so from the maturity element, maturity factor, is he going to handle some distractions and some failures? And that is a check box along the way here as we've gotten to know him."
Bradley's position is center field, but the Red Sox don't have an opening there just yet. Jacoby Ellsbury is under contract for one more season.
Boston does have playing time available in left field, where Jonny Gomes will start against all lefties and some righties.
Farrell said that Bradley will get some time in right field when Shane Victorino departs on Sunday for the World Baseball Classic.
Napoli takes swings against Buchholz
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Mike Napoli got an ideal tune-up for his upcoming Grapefruit League debut by digging into the batters' box against Clay Buchholz on Tuesday morning.
Buchholz probably has the best pure stuff of any pitcher on the Red Sox. Napoli will play in his first game on Friday night at 7:05 p.m. ET on MLB.TV at home against the Pirates.
For Buchholz, it was also a key day of preparation. Slowed by a right hamstring during the early portion of camp, Buchholz will make his debut on Saturday afternoon at 1:05 against the Twins.
The righty threw 40 pitches over two simulated innings.
"It felt more comfortable. I've always felt comfortable since we've been throwing off a mound out of the windup," Buchholz said. "Out of the stretch, I started to find a balance point toward the end. I threw 10 extra pitches to get a good feel for it. The last 10 I threw, I was staying on line and able to get to a balance point without jumping to home plate. I felt really good there at the end."