OMAHA, Neb. – USC center fielder Jackie Bradley is back.
The Most Outstanding Player of the 2010 College World Series – who spent the past two months out of uniform due to a left wrist injury -- was added to the 27-man roster Thursday night after a solid round of batting practice at Boys Town.
His ability to swing the bat, which had remained in question earlier this week, appears to be on track.
“I thought he looked great,” USC coach Ray Tanner said. “He wasn’t tentative. He looks healthy.”
That look at Bradley convinced Tanner to add him to the roster, even though he would have likely done so anyway even if Bradley only could have played as a defensive replacement and served as a pinch-runner.
“We’re going to have to put him on there,” Tanner said.
Bradley was even more optimistic about his ability to play than he was earlier in the week.
“It felt great even just to touch the bat again,” he said.
But he was most pleased about the lack of pain as he took his cuts.
“I didn’t feel anything. It just felt natural,” Bradley said. “Overall, the hand feels just great.”
Bradley simply wanted to spray line drives as he took his swings under the watchful eyes of the athletic trainers and the coaches.
“I wasn’t nervous,” he said. “The coaches probably were.”
He injured a wrist tendon trying to making a diving catch April 23 against Mississippi State and had surgery the following week. He wore a cast for a month before he got it off and began rehabbing. He will still need to wear different braces in games, one for hitting and one for playing in the field, that will limit movement in his wrist.
“I feel like I’m ready to play,” he said.
That should provide a boost for the Gamecocks (50-14) as they begin defense of their national championship Sunday against Texas A&M at TD Ameritrade Park.
“It gives us a little more hop in our step,” Tanner said.
From Omaha: Jackie Bradley Jr.
From Omaha: Ray Tanner