BOSTON — As Boston Red Sox Manager John Farrell spoke in one of his final press conferences of the 2014 season, his words sounded like a warning to his young players.

When Farrell was asked what he hoped the younger players took from this past season, he talked about adjusting better to the major leagues.

“That they understand that there is a lot of work that is required every day,” Farrell said.

“Young players come to the major leagues – and not just in Boston – they come with an advanced billing that may be, in some cases, unjust, because this is a very difficult game.

“The gap between Double-A and Triple-A and the big leagues is a challenging one. They have to seek information and have to put the work in to make the adjustments. We have a handful of guys who have experienced that first hand.”

In other words, getting to the majors may be every player’s goal, but staying in the majors by producing is the real objective.

Two players come to mind when hearing Farrell’s words – Jackie Bradley Jr. and Will Middlebrooks. Both are talented players who have inexplicably struggled mightily.

Bradley may be the best defender among all center fielders in the game but he is the worst offensively, batting .198 this year with a .531 OPS.

Middlebrooks broke out in 2012 when he was called up in May, batting .288 (.835 OPS, 15 home runs) in 75 games before he broke his wrist in August. But injuries continue to nag Middlebrooks and he has performed poorly. He batted .191 (.522, two home runs) in 63 games in 2014.

Are Bradley and Middlebrooks making the adjustments Farrell talked about to produce as major league players?

Bradley has bristled at the notion that he is not working hard. But is it a question of working hard or working the right way?

Bradley is a confident player, but there are grumblings that he does not ask for advice – or, in Farrell’s words, “seek information” – nor study video enough to make needed adjustments. He simply believes he will turn it around.

“He keeps saying he’s fine. He’s not fine,” said one member of the Red Sox organization.

The Red Sox recently re-stocked their outfield with trades, signings and players changing positions (Mookie Betts). Bradley, a potential Gold Glove winner, could be in the minors most of 2015.

With Middlebrooks, injuries have played a part in his decline, but Farrell said, “I don’t think he’s been limited any more than other players with nagging ailments … is that the only reason his numbers have dropped? I can’t say that it is.”

It sounds like the Red Sox are telling Middlebrooks they expect more. Remember the tough talk from then-Pawtucket Manager Gary DiSarcina when Middlebrooks was demoted to Triple-A in 2013: “You take a step back and what has he really done? He’s had three good months (in the majors).”

In March, Middlebrooks sounded confident he’d grown despite a down 2013.

“I can look back and see the positive notes, things I’ve learned,” Middlebrooks said. “I learned a lot more (in 2013) hitting .230 than when I hit .290 (in 2012).”

What will Middlebrooks be like in 2015? Hungry to prove he belongs, or searching for his confidence.

Xander Bogaerts also had struggles in 2014, batting .240 (.660 OPS), with 12 home runs.

Bogaerts started well, batting .304 (.859 OPS, four home runs) through June 3. Then he fought through a three-month slump, dropping to .224 (.628 OPS) by Aug. 31.

Bogaerts came back strong in September: hitting .313 (.806) with four more homers.

Farrell was encouraged.

“He’s responded to those challenges and the fact that he’s finished on an upswing is extremely encouraging,” Farrell said.

“I think he’s learned a lot about himself. He’s a talented kid … a 21-year-old shortstop, played 140-plus games. Hit .240 with 12 home runs.

“It’s a pretty good start to what should be a long career.”

Bogaerts seems cemented in Boston’s plans. Bradley? Middlebrooks? Boston will wait and see.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at:

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Twitter: ClearTheBases