Despite slow spring, Jackie Bradley, Jr. likely to start in center

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Jackie Bradley, Jr. has all of five hits in Grapefruit League play through 30 at-bats, but he is still on track to be the starting center fielder for the Red Sox when they break camp and head north at the end of March, according to Jason Mastrodonato of Masslive.com. Veteran Grady Sizemore, starting Saturday evening’s game against the Phillies, is also competing for playing time and is hitting .306 in 13 at-bats, but the Red Sox seem likely to side with youth in this case.

Bradley, 23, struggled in a brief taste of big league action last year, hitting .189 in 107 plate appearances. Taken in the first round of the 2011 draft, Bradley was rated one of baseball’s best prospects across the board entering last season.

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Joe Maddon: “I have a defensive foot fetish.”

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The Cubs’ defense — or lack thereof this year — has been a topic of conversation as it could help explain why the team hasn’t played at the elite level it played at last year.

Manager Joe Maddon tried to go into detail about that but ended up channeling his inner Rex Ryan. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney.

Well then.

The Nationals have scored 62 runs during four Joe Ross starts

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If, in the future, Joe Ross ever complains about a lack of run support, point to his first four starts of the 2017 season.

Ross started on April 19 in Atlanta against the Braves, on April 25 in Colorado against the Rockies, on April 30 at home against the Mets, and on May 23 at home against the Mariners. In those games, the Nats’ offense scored 14, 15, 23, and 10 runs respectively for a total of 62 runs, or an average of 15.5 per start. Ross was the pitcher of record for seven, eight, 10, and 10 runs for a total of 35 runs (8.75 runs per start), which would still make him the major league leader in run support by that restrictive standard.

Among qualified starters — Ross did not qualify — entering Tuesday’s action, the Rockies’ Antonio Senzatela led the way according to ESPN, averaging 7.11 runs of support in nine starts. The Rockies scored double-digit runs in only three of those starts, oddly enough.

Per the Nationals, the 62 runs of support for Ross is a major league record in a pitcher’s first four starts of a season.