Jackie Bradley Jr. expected to make Opening Day roster with Red Sox

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There’s nothing official yet, but after weeks of debate about the pros and cons, it looks like top prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. will break camp with the Red Sox.

According to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, Ryan Sweeney was told after tonight’s Grapefruit League game against the Twins that he will not be added to the 40-man roster. As a result, Boston’s final two roster spots are expected to go to Mike Carp and Bradley.

Bradley entered spring training as a major long shot to win a roster spot, but things changed in a hurry due to a combination of his excellent play and David Ortiz’s absence from the lineup. The 22-year-old had an RBI single in tonight’s game and is hitting .441 (26-for-59) with two home runs, four doubles, one triple and 12 RBI in 26 games this spring. Barring a last-minute change, Bradley figures to play left field while Jonny Gomes will fill in for Ortiz out of the DH spot. Things could obviously change once Ortiz is back to full health, but it’s going to be tough to send Bradley down if he keeps producing.

Report: Pirates to convert JB Shuck into two-way player

JB Shuck
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Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.

Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.

Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.