BOSTON -- Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. knows a laser when it leaves his bat, and he also might have a hidden talent for guessing his own exit velocity.After squaring up a key triple to help lead the Red Sox to a 5-3 victory over the Pirates in
BOSTON -- Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. knows a laser when it leaves his bat, and he also might have a hidden talent for guessing his own exit velocity.
After squaring up a key triple to help lead the Red Sox to a 5-3 victory over the Pirates in Monday's Opening Day at Fenway, Bradley was asked how hard he hit that ball.
"I'm going to say 111 [mph]," said Bradley, emphasizing that it was purely a guess.
Statcast™ registered the triple at 110.6 mph leaving Bradley's bat, coming off of a 96.9-mph heater by Bucs ace Gerrit Cole.
It was the hardest ball Bradley has hit in the Statcast™ era, which started in 2015.
Monday marked the latest demonstration of how much Bradley helps the Red Sox as a two-way player.
In the top of the fourth, with the game scoreless, Bradley made an impressive catch against the railing of Boston's bullpen to rob Francisco Cervelli of extra bases. The catch probability, according to Statcast™, was 55 percent, making it a three-star grab.
But what Statcast™ couldn't account for was the fact Bradley had the wall railing to contend with and some sunlight. He actually did a little route adjustment while in pursuit.
"I knew what vicinity it was going to be in, and then heading towards the wall, it was adjusting to the sun, actually," said Bradley. "I had to get around it, because the ball was in the sun momentarily. I had to wait for it to come out. That was right around the time when I was going to hit the wall. I just tried to keep my focus, stick with it."
Wearing No. 19 this season -- which was donned decades ago by another standout Red Sox center fielder named Fred Lynn -- Bradley has a similar view of walls as the 1975 World Series hero.
"I don't care about the wall, I'm going to catch the ball," said Bradley.
And that he did, bringing the Fenway faithful of 36,594 to its collective feet.
Off the bat, Cervelli hoped he had a hit.
"Oh yeah, but it's Bradley," said Cervelli. "He's been doing those kind of plays for years now. It doesn't surprise me. He's a pro, one of the best over there."
Bradley's snag kept the game at a scoreless stalemate while his triple with the bases empty and two outs in the fifth marked the first significant hit of the day for the Boston bats. The Red Sox went on to score five runs in the inning.
"I think it gave us a little momentum," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "It was a little bit of a spark. Cole had thrown the ball outstanding and then he gets a fastball in the middle of the plate on a day he was dominant through the first four-plus innings. I think any time you see a triple, it's probably the most exciting play in the game and it further energized us."
As Bradley roared around the bases, Andrew McCutchen had a lonely feeling on the first official day of his position switch to right field.
"It's a pinball machine," McCutchen said. "I knew that was going to happen -- that's what it's going to do. Balls are going to hit one way then hit another way, hit another wall. You've got to try to do your best to catch the ball cleanly and get it in. That's just one of those things that's going to happen."
After a solid season last year, Bradley looks forward to again making things happen for the Red Sox in 2017.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.