Eleven days before Opening Day, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington acknowledged that 22-year-old rookie outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. still has a chance to make the major league team coming out of camp, and identified the elements he considered the most important in making that decision.

"There are all sorts of factors to consider," Cherington said while meeting with reporters in the Red Sox dugout here Thursday afternoon, "but the simplest ones are probably the most important: Is there an everyday role? Is a player really ready for it? What's our best team?

"If we use that to guide us, more often than not, we'll make the right decision, so we'll have to see how it plays out. It's hard to ignore what he's done this spring."

Cherington gave those factors more weight than how Bradley's promotion to the big league team would impact his service time and future clock for free-agent eligibility. Unless Bradley spends at least 20 days in the minor leagues this year (or any year in the next six), he would be eligible for free agency in 2018. Otherwise, he would remain under Sox control until 2019.

"We all know every year in Boston is pretty important," Cherington said, suggesting that 2013 carries as much weight as 2019. "We've got to consider all the data points, remember that every year in Boston is important. In a case like this, sometimes the simplest factors are the most important. Talking about a young player like this, is he really ready?

"There are alternatives, one way or another. We know he's going to be a good player. We're happy he's on our side. We'll see when that starts."