ST. PETERSBURG -- One side effect from the Jacoby Ellsbury injury is that it is giving Jackie Bradley Jr. a chance to get some more experience down the stretch.
Bradley, who is ranked the club's No. 2 prospect, will probably get most of the at-bats in center field against right-handed pitching, and he looks to capitalize on the opportunity.
The one thing Bradley finds invaluable is the chance to get more at-bats at the Major League level.
"You can know everything or a repertoire a pitcher has, but you're not going to know what everything is like unless you actually face them face to face," Bradley said. "You can see it from the dugout or on the computer or TV, but to actually get out there and experience it, that's how you find out and learn the most."
Entering Wednesday's game against the Rays, Bradley was a .172 hitter in his first 64 Major League at-bats.
"We've got a pretty good feel for what Jackie is going to do, and that's going to be well-above-average defense," said manager John Farrell. "He's going to put up a quality at-bat. We also have to temper that he's not getting everyday at-bats right now as well, but there's no lack of confidence putting him in the lineup."
Bradley had a dominant Spring Training and made the Opening Day roster. He was optioned to the Minors once David Ortiz returned from his Achilles injury. However, Bradley has come back to the team for multiple stints, and Farrell has seen improvement each time.
"The biggest thing is his understanding of where he can handle pitches, particularly in to him," said Farrell. "Early in the year, opposing pitchers found a little bit of a hole in there and exploited it. I don't know that he necessarily knew where the strike zone ended close to him. After going back down, that's become more of a consistency of his approach. But I don't think we want to jump to conclusions just because of the irregularity of at-bats here."
Bradley's main goal for each day? To keep learning.
"You're always learning," said Bradley. "You're never going to know every single thing. Doing the fundamentals every single day and getting better, whether it's bunting, moving runners over, those are small things that you don't really see on a stat sheet, but it helps teams win."
Pedro working to get Doubront back on track
ST. PETERSBURG -- If Felix Doubront had stayed on turn in the rotation, he would have pitched on Wednesday night against the Rays.
Instead, his main activity of the day was a side session performed in front of both pitching coach Juan Nieves and special assistant to the general manager Pedro Martinez.
Though Nieves remains the key voice for Doubront and the other members of Boston's pitching staff, it never hurts to have one of the best pitchers of all-time monitoring your daily work.
Though Doubront has struggled lately after a prolonged run of consistency, Martinez thinks the lefty is just a tick away from getting back on track.
Asked if Doubront seemed tired, Martinez said, "I don't think so. He looks strong. What I pick up from myself, he was a little late in some of the movements, and that could throw off a pitch in your mechanics, too. Everybody has a trigger. Sometimes he's a little delayed on it. That's affecting him a little bit, but he's going to be all right."
When Martinez started his new job in Spring Training, Doubront was one of the pitchers he developed an immediate rapport with.
"I've been talking to him and trying to get him to fix a little bit of the little struggles he's going through," said Martinez. "But Juan has done a great job and I'm just reinforcing in Spanish. … I'm just reinforcing some of the stuff that Juan is already doing with him. We communicate better in Spanish. Sometimes Juan can be busy with one guy, and I can just help him out."
The Red Sox have hardly given up on Doubront. With Clay Buchholz back in the rotation, someone needed to skip a turn.
Manager John Farrell continued to reiterate that Doubront will be slotted back into the rotation -- perhaps as early as next week.
"He'll get another start," said Farrell. "We've just skipped him in this turn in the rotation. He'll get some side work with Juan. We have yet to determine when he's going to actually be inserted back into the rotation."
And Farrell hasn't forgotten what Doubront meant to the team from May 16-Aug. 4, when he posted a 2.55 ERA over 13 starts.
"He was very good. He was consistent," Farrell said. "I think there was a stretch of 15 consecutive [starts] where I think it was three runs or less. And at the time when Clay went down, he stepped up, as did John Lackey. Felix, after he got over some of the early-season inconsistencies and maybe some arm strength -- or less than normal arm strength -- he reeled off two solid months, two and a half months of a lot of dependability."
• Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who returned to the lineup on Sunday after missing a few games with a sore back, got a scheduled rest on Wednesday.
"Yeah, planned," said Farrell. "He'll be back in there tomorrow, and I think just being a little [conservative], spreading out the workload as best possible until he's completely out of the woods. And he's not hindered by anything. But we don't want to run him into three or four consecutive days right now."
• One area Farrell continues to look for improvement on is controlling the running game. Saltalamacchia did a nice job in Tuesday's 2-0 win, throwing out two potential basestealers.
"We can be better and we're always looking for ways to improve," Farrell said. "I think we've got certain combinations that are probably a little bit more successful at controlling the running game than others, but the areas of need, there's constant efforts, whether it's varying a hold time or trying to get rid of the ball a little bit quicker. We do prioritize making the pitch and executing the pitch first. If that has a specific pitcher being a little more deliberate unloading the ball, we'll prioritize that, but we can still improve in that area."
• The Red Sox will become the latest team to honor Yankees closer Mariano Rivera when they hold a pregame ceremony prior to Sunday night's rivalry matchup at Fenway Park. Rivera, considered the best closer in history by many, is retiring at the end of this season. Sunday will be Rivera's last regular-season game at Fenway.