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Red Sox demote struggling center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. to Triple-A

Jackie Bradley Jr. #25 of the Boston Red Sox makes a leaping catch on a ball hit by Munenori Kawasaki #66 of the Toronto Blue Jays in the fifth inning at Fenway Park on July 30, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Jackie Bradley Jr. #25 of the Boston Red Sox makes a leaping catch on a ball hit by Munenori Kawasaki #66 of the Toronto Blue Jays in the fifth inning at Fenway Park on July 30, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

In a surprising move on Monday, the Boston Red Sox have decided to demote center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. The move is only surprising because of the timing. The young outfielder has displayed outstanding defense, but offensively has struggled throughout the season. The Red Sox have recalled promising outfielder-infielder Mookie Betts, who will be joining the team for the third time this season.

Betts is expected to be the starting center fielder when the Red Sox open a four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels on Monday. Bradley’s struggles at the plate were overshadowed by his defense and also may have been delayed because of injuries to Shane Victorino and the team’s decision to cut ties with Grady Sizemore. The team is hoping he can get back on track down at the Triple-A level.

Bradley had a .216 batting average with the Red Sox, which was the lowest by a starting center fielder in the American League. At one point he was in a 0-for-35 drought and looked completely lost at the plate. His .290 slugging percentage is also the lowest among all major leaguers with enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title.

The team showed tremendous patience with Bradley through his struggles, but sending him down to Pawtucket also shows the team’s concern. In the last 14 games he was hitting just .143 (5-for-35) with 15 strikeouts. That kind of production just wasn’t helping a lineup that has struggled as a whole all season.

In calling up Betts, the team may get an offensive spark while maintaining defense. Betts is hitting .244 with a home run and two RBIs in his brief time in Boston. He has been tearing the cover off the ball in Triple-A Pawtucket where he’s hitting .355 in 45 games.