Bradley now wears corrective glasses during batting practice and at home. During games, he wears a contact lens in his right eye.
The improvement over 2021 has been clear. Bradley’s overall numbers are modest – a .228 average, .277 on-base, and .326 slugging mark – but as he’s become more accustomed to playing with a contact lens, his performance has continued to improve. He was at .281 / .315 / .405 in his last 38 games prior to Monday’s 0 for 4, offering solid offensive contributions on top of his typically spectacular defense.
What has the astigmatism-correcting contact affected?
“Everything,” said Bradley. “[With an astigmatism] you’re seeing in two different depths. That’s not medically very good in baseball. It’s gotten better [this season]. . . . It took me some time to get used to the correction as well. I think it’s going in the right direction. I can see now. That’s kind of important. “
Throw Downs arrives
With teams allowed to carry no more than 13 pitchers as of Monday, the Sox (who’d been carrying 14, versus 12 position players) called up Throw Downs from Triple-A Worcester for his big league debut and designated recently acquired righty James Norwood for assignment.
Downs said he’d been sleeping in on a WooSox off-day, and with his phone on do-not-disturbing, he missed a couple of phone calls from the team. Finally, he saw a text from WooSox manager Chad Tracy asking him to call.
“He was like, ‘You’re not trying to get to the big leagues?’ I couldn’t believe it, ”Downs relayed. “Crying started. It was pretty surreal. ”
Downs is hitting .180 / .297 / .397 with 11 homers and 11 steals in 53 games this year for the WooSox, playing solid defense at both second and short. Though his 31.1 percent strikeout rate in Triple A remains concerning, he’s shown considerable improvement in his plate discipline and pitch selection this year, evident both in his 11.4 percent walk rate and in the frequency with which he’s making hard contact.
The 23-year-old is likely to be with the Sox only briefly. Both Kiké Hernández (hip) and Christian Arroyo (who rejoined the team after a COVID-19 infection on Monday) are going to the WooSox on rehab assignments in the coming days and could rejoin the Sox early in their coming road trip. Manager Alex Cora said that the righthanded-hitting Downs will get a start against Tigers lefty Tarik Skubal on Wednesday, but it’s possible that he could be back in the minors by the weekend.
Even so, for Downs – whose mother, girlfriend, brother (Jerry, a former Red Sox minor leaguer), and best friend made it to Fenway – the duration of his first big league stint mattered less than the fact that it had arrived.
“I can’t believe I just took it [batting practice] here, ”Downs beamed. “I still can’t believe it happened and that I’m here. I’m trying to take it in, every single second. Watch the older guys and how they go about their business and learn as much as possible. ”
Norwood, 28, was acquired from the Phillies for cash considerations on Saturday, added to the roster on Sunday, and designated on Monday. The Sox are hoping that he’ll clear waivers so that he can be outrighted to the minors and emerge as part of the team’s bullpen depth.
Tanner Houck to miss another Toronto series
Cora said Tanner Houck will not accompany the Red Sox to Toronto for their series next week. It will mark the second time this year Houck, who converted a fifth straight save opportunity Monday, misses a series due to his failure to comply with Canadian vaccination requirements for those visiting the country. . . Righthander Garrett Whitlock, on the injured list since June 10 with right hip inflammation, said that he feels good and has gotten back to throwing off a mound in a 20-pitch bullpen session. The Red Sox expect him to be activated during the coming road trip, likely next week. “Whenever they decide to let me back in the rotation, whenever they want me back to active, that’s when I’ll join in,” Whitlock said. . . Nate Eovaldi (back) appears to be at least a week behind Whitlock. The Sox are hopeful he can throw a bullpen session by the weekend. . . The Sox donned their yellow City Connect uniforms for the opener of the series against the Tigers. “We needed the team store to sell a few of them, so we’re helping them out,” joked Cora. “We’ll probably go three games with them. [But you] never know, we might lose today and that’s it ”. . . Former Red Sox star Manny Ramirez was honored for his recent induction into the Red Sox team Hall of Fame. David Ortiz presented his longtime lineup partner with the plaque, and Ramirez threw out the first pitch. Both Ramirez and Ortiz enjoyed an animated exchange from a distance with fellow extraordinary hitter Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers. “This is my home,” Ramirez said of his reception at Fenway. “That’s Boston and those fans they’re the best. … They always remember you and they always support you. ”
Alex Speier can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @alexspeier.