Red Sox name Jackie Bradley Jr. Opening Day left fielder

USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox are headed north, and Jackie Bradley Jr. has his answer. The 22-year-old outfielder will make his Major League debut on Opening Day as Boston's starting left fielder.

With just one day left before the Red Sox kick off their regular season schedule in New York, the team has named 22-year-old Jackie Bradley Jr. as their starting left fielder for Opening Day.

While it took the team until now to make it official, only telling Bradley himself while on the plane en route to New York, it's been clear since the team released Ryan Sweeney that Bradley would be their man, at least for now.

It's not going too far to call the young outfielder a "phenom" after the spring training he's enjoyed. Already widely respected as one of the team's (and, indeed, baseball's) best prospects, Bradley hit .419/.507/.613 in 62 spring at bats, making himself a household name in Boston and earning plenty of play on a national level as well.

The decision to keep Bradley with the team is nothing if not controversial. If the team doesn't manage to kill off 11 days of service time over the course of the year by sending Bradley back to the minors, they will sacrifice a year of team control on a player who is at the core of their plans for the future. Because of that, it seems entirely likely that this is not the end of the story, and that he will find his way back to the minors at some point, likely when David Ortiz returns.

If this is a short-term trip to the majors, though, the return to the minors will likely be equally temporary in nature. Jackie Bradley Jr. has convinced the Red Sox that he is ready for the big leagues. Now all that's left is for him to follow through.

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