4/27/2014 1:52 P.M. ET
Bradley's defense drawing rave reviews
By Chris Toman / Special to MLB.com
TORONTO -- No one said it would be easy to replace Jacoby Ellsbury's production in center field, but the Red Sox are pleased with the job Jackie Bradley Jr. has done.
Bradley Jr. is a work in progress at the plate -- he entered Sunday's series finale against the Blue Jays hitting just .225, though he did hit an RBI single in the second inning off R.A. Dickey. His defense, however, is getting plenty of attention.
The 24-year-old recorded the last out of Saturday's 7-6 win on a difficult hard-hit liner, and has flashed great instincts to track down a number of other balls during the series. Right-hander Clay Buchholz raved about him after the contest, and manager John Farrell was still talking up his defense Sunday.
"The way Jackie has played center field, he's an elite defender out there," Farrell said. "He has saved a couple of runs already and been outstanding. His routes are precise and it's impressive."
Advanced defensive metrics back up Farrell's assessment. Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), a defensive statistic on Fangraphs.com, which factors in range and arm strength, in addition to other things, to place a run value on a player's defense, has Bradley with the third-highest UZR among center fielders behind the Angels' Mike Trout and Seattle's Abraham Almonte.
"When you don't get it done on one side of the ball, I think it's very vital you get it done on the other side," Bradley said. "That's something I'm always going to take pride in. Defensively, I'm going to make sure I do everything in my power to get it done."
Ortiz, Victorino sit; Pierzynski starts at DH
TORONTO -- Designated hitter David Ortiz and right fielder Shane Victorino were out of the starting lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Blue Jays.
Manager John Farrell wanted to get the hot-hitting A.J. Pierzynski, who started at DH, into the lineup against Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and have David Ross behind the plate for Jon Lester. Ross has caught three of Lester's five starts and it's a pairing Farrell likes.
Farrell said Pierzynski's longer swing, which allows his bat to stay in the zone for a longer period of time, is well-suited against a knuckleballer. He was batting .417 in 12 career at-bats vs. Dickey entering Sunday, something Farrell said also factored into the decision. Pierzynski drove in five runs and amassed four hits over the first two games of the series, including a grand slam -- the eighth of his career -- in Saturday's 7-6 win.
While Farrell doesn't love the idea of starting both his catchers in the same game, in case one were to get injured, he said his team is prepared to handle such a scenario if it were to occur.
"There is a risk to that," Farrell said. "But in the event that something happened, we could put A.J. behind the plate, and we have a number of guys who could pinch-hit. We could play a National League-style if we needed to for a couple of at-bats."
Victorino, meanwhile, is simply getting some rest after playing three straight games since returning from the disabled list Thursday.
With an off-day Monday, and the fact the Rogers Centre is an artificial playing surface, it made sense to sit Victorino, Farrell said.
"We want to make sure we are not running him out there too many consecutive days," the skipper said. "On the AstroTurf, guys respond a little bit differently."
Farrell at a loss over Tazawa's issues with Toronto
TORONTO -- Red Sox reliever Junichi Tazawa continues to struggle against the Blue Jays.
Tazawa, who surrendered six homers to Toronto over eight innings last season, allowed two runs, including a massive solo shot to Juan Francisco in the eighth inning of Saturday's 7-6 win.
While Tazawa is a valuable piece of Boston's bullpen as the setup man, manager John Farrell said the numbers cannot be ignored. As a result, if the Red Sox found themselves ahead late in Sunday's game, Farrell said he might elect to turn to someone else.
"We can't turn our back to the success [Toronto] has had against him," Farrell said. "They see him well and have squared up a number of pitches against him. They are a very good fastball-hitting team.
"He's available. That's not to say we wouldn't go to him, but we'll see how today unfolds."
Farrell said the club has poured over video to find something that could help explain Tazawa's troubles against Toronto, but has largely come up empty-handed. Tazawa doesn't appear to be tipping pitches and, if anything, it could be a psychological thing, Farrell said.
"As a former pitcher, there is always teams you know that you didn't fare too well against," he said. "I can't say that takes away from his overall stuff, but he might face this team a little differently."
The Red Sox also wanted to avoid using closer Koji Uehara in Sunday's contest. Uehara has been dealing with shoulder stiffness and worked a four-out save Saturday. He allowed his first run of season when Jose Bautista took him deep to lead off the ninth.
"If we can stay away from him, that would be ideal," Farrell said.
Chris Toman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.