While general manager Theo Epstein was careful to couch his comments about whether it was time to turn the page on the slumping J.D. Drew and make the streaking Josh Reddick the Red Sox starting right fielder for the foreseeable future, it certainly sounds like the team plans on continuing riding the hot bat at the position.
“[Terry Francona] makes out the lineup and I’m sure he’s going to have decisions to make on a nightly basis. I don’t want to speak for him, but certainly Josh is somebody that is helping us win games and you want to put him in position to continue to do that,” Epstein said Thursday morning in an interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI.
Of the 24-year-old Reddick, who is hitting .378 with 4 homers, 18 RBIs and a 1.103 OPS in 82 at bats this season, Epstein said “it really looks like a light’s gone on for him and he’s a different guy,” than in seasons past.
“You can’t deny what Josh Reddick is doing and you can’t deny that he’s a different player than he’s been,” explained Epstein. “Josh Reddick has always had a world of talent from the day we drafted him. The ball jumped off his bat as well as just about any player in our system. He was always really athletic, always been a really good outfielder, always a playmaker in the outfield, always a great baserunner, it was simply a question of Josh of improving his plate discipline and going up there and repeating not only his swing mechanics but going up there with a plan, working the count, swinging at good pitches and putting himself in position to let that explosiveness off his bat play. ... We’ve probably talked to Josh about it hundreds of times, thousands of times over the years, now it really looks like a light’s gone on for him and he’s a different guy.
“I know you can’t put too much emphasis on a hundred or so at bats but the bottom line is he finished up so strong last year at Pawtucket starting to repeat his swing and swing at strikes and went off and hit for a ton of power down there. Then he’s been really good all this year, not only up here but when he was a Triple-A. I know his batting average was low but he was really swinging at strikes. He was walking a lot more, he was hitting for power.
“I think this is a different guy, a really exciting piece not only now but for the future.”