FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After cracking the Red Sox's Opening Day roster last year, No. 3 prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. lost the center-field competition to Grady Sizemore and will start this season in the Minors after getting optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday.
"Like any competitor, he was disappointed, and we expected him to be," said manager John Farrell. "He is a very driven athlete and looks at this as a challenge and to get back here."
Bradley struggled throughout the spring, hitting just .158 with five RBIs in 19 games. He also had 17 strikeouts.
"I was prepared either way," Bradley said. "I'm not one to ever get caught off-guard about anything. You take it in stride and move on. I knew it was going to be a competing thing. He played well. I didn't perform in Spring Training, but I feel like I'm ready for the season and I'm ready to prove it. We all didn't see Jackie Bradley Jr. this spring."
Bradley was in the Red Sox's original lineup for Friday's game, batting ninth and in center field, but he was taken out after getting optioned.
Last year, Bradley had an amazing Spring Training, hitting .419 and earning a spot in the team's outfield for its opening series against the Yankees.
"It's humbling. I've always known that," Bradley said. "I don't get too caught up on the highs or too caught up on the lows. I just try to stay in a happy medium and it will all even out."
Farrell expects to have Bradley be on the Red Sox's roster sometime this year.
"Jackie is critically important to us, not just today, but for a long period of time," Farrell said. "It would be important for Jackie to get some at-bats and get on a roll and get his game going."
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.