The star-studded pitching trio that will headline the Red Sox rotation also declined invitations, which comes as a relief to the team given the risk of injury that can result from an increased workload. The extra playing time is a bit less of a concern for an outfielder like Bradley, but he has his own reasons for staying home.
“At first I thought it might be something I would be very interested in and if I would want to be a part of,” explained Bradley. “But then as sat back, I’m still just kind of jump-starting my career. Obviously I have a little daughter now. I didn’t think it would be worth those 2 1/2 to three weeks of time I was going to miss, with being in spring training I’m on a routine so get to come home every single day. If I play in the World Baseball Classic I wouldn’t be able to do that. The travel is constant, being on the West Coast. At the end of last year when my daughter was born, we went on a lot of long road trips so I got to miss her 12 and 13 days at a time. This is just important to me to stay here for a couple of months and maybe next time if I get that opportunity again, if it arises. I’ll be at a different time in my life and my career.”
Certainly can’t argue with the concept of putting family first. Bradley has a 7-month-old daughter at home that he was already forced to be away from for long stretches as the Red Sox were winding down their season. I don’t think anyone can fault the man for wanting to spend as much time with his family as he can before he embarks on another grueling season.
Sitting out of the WBC also allows Bradley to stay on the same routine that led to his breakout campaign in 2016, which saw him hit 26 home runs with an .835 OPS to earn his first All-Star appearance. Bradley expressed some concern that playing for Team USA may force him to alter his workout habits and he didn’t want to risk that having a negative effect on his preparation for the upcoming season.
Bradley has already had the experience of representing his country before, having played for USA baseball’s collegiate national team while at the University of South Carolina. He takes pride in having been able to wear a uniform with USA printed across his chest, but the uniform that says Red Sox is the higher priority.
The only commitment more important than the one Bradley has to the Red sox is the one he has to his family. Fans often underestimate the difficulty professional athletes face in spending so much time on the road away from their loved ones. It comes with the territory in this line of business and the millions of dollars certainly helps, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to miss out on seeing your kids grow up.
Playing for Team USA is a great honor, but one Bradley will likely get another opportunity for later in his career. Spending the offseason with his baby daughter is time he’d never be able to get back, so at this point in his life, this is the right choice for Bradley to make.