Commentary

4-for-4 game is timely for Josh Reddick

With J.D. Drew preparing for return from DL, young outfielder proving his worth

Updated: September 4, 2011, 2:22 PM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- The Red Sox received a major offensive boost from Josh Reddick Saturday afternoon.

Boston's right fielder went 4-for-4 with a double, scored three runs and was hit by a pitch to reach base for a career-high five times to help the Red Sox to a 12-7 victory over the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park.

The timing was perfect for Reddick.

He has struggled mightily of late and entered Saturday's game with a .136 average (9-for-66) since Aug. 6. His performance Saturday might have bought him a little more playing time as veteran right fielder J.D. Drew prepares to return from the disabled list.

[+] EnlargeJosh Reddick
AP Photo/Winslow Townson Josh Reddick, who entered Saturday's game with a .136 average since Aug. 6, went 4-for-4 with a double, scored three runs and was hit by a pitch to reach base for a career-high five times.

Drew, who has been on the DL since July 20 with an impingement in his left shoulder, was set to be activated last Thursday but he suffered a sprained finger during his minor league rehab assignment earlier in the week and his status is unclear at this point.

After Saturday's game, Reddick said he's not concerned about losing his starting job when Drew returns.

"You try not to think about that," he said. "This game is hard enough as it is. You just try to block out that stuff. J.D. is going to come back and help us at one point; we know that, everybody knows that in this clubhouse, especially me. Look at the career he's had, so we know he's going to come back and help us produce one way or another."

When/if Drew comes back, Reddick says he'll be ready to contribute in any way possible.

"I'm happy to be here," he said. "Good days like this help turn it around and hopefully I can continue producing until he does come back."

Red Sox manager Terry Francona has always been impressed with the way Reddick plays the game and was thrilled with the young outfielder's production Saturday.

"That's good," Francona said. "So many times he's given us such a lift, and that's hard for young players to do that. We're in the middle of a pennant race and this kid comes in when Carl [Crawford] wasn't playing and gave us a lift. Now, he's playing the majority of right field and he's had some pretty good days. There was a time there when [opposing pitchers] made some adjustments, but he still has that ability to have some sock in his bat -- not just singles, there's some production in that bat."

He has proven in the past, even at the minor league level, he's a streaky hitter. Reddick was hitting .343 at the time his recent slump began early last month, and his average dropped as low as 60 percentage points. With Saturday's performance he's back to .289. He was ridiculous in June and July, struggled in August, and is off to a good start in September.

"The main thing is helping the team win," Reddick said. "Definitely after the struggles I had, it's huge to pick up a game like this and have a few off the end and off the hands fall in when I've been hitting the ball hard. Just keep having good at-bats is all I can do."

Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan has been stressing the importance of staying consistent, and Reddick has tried to do that this season. The results show that he's maturing as a player.

"In the past I've changed my stance and changed my hand location whenever I started struggling, so the one thing we've been focusing on is staying the same way I've been all year," Reddick said. "Everybody goes through slumps. We've seen everybody do it, the greats do it, and how you cope with it and come back the next day ready to play is how you have to respond to it."

A scary moment occurred during his fifth at-bat Saturday, when Reddick was drilled in the left hand by a pitch delivered by Rangers reliever Darren Oliver in the bottom of the eighth. He remained in the game for the rest of the inning but was replaced in the top of the ninth. X-rays were taken at the ballpark and the results came back negative.

"It's sore," Reddick said. "Nothing too serious, just badly bruised. I'll keep icing it and we'll re-evaluate it tomorrow."

The pitch caught him on the tender part of the hand just above his wrist and it quickly swelled.

"Getting hit by a pitch really isn't that fun, especially in a vulnerable spot like that and with as tender as it gets there, but the good thing is we won and that's the main thing, " he said.

At the time the Red Sox needed an outfielder in mid-June due to an injury to left fielder Crawford. Reddick was in the midst of a slump at Triple-A Pawtucket, batting .206 (7-for-34). One has to wonder if fellow outfield prospect Ryan Kalish was healthy and producing, would he have been the player called up?

Once Reddick got to Boston, he took full advantage of his opportunity and hit .412 with six extra-base hits in his first 13 games with the Red Sox.

Meanwhile, Kalish was on the DL and could only watch his friend succeed with the big club. He missed the majority of the season at Pawtucket after he suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder while making a spectacular catch in center field for the PawSox April 21. He was reinstated Aug. 8 and played only a few games before he landed back on the DL with right trapezius inflammation. Then last week, the Red Sox announced he would have season-ending surgery for a bulging disk in his neck.

The news buckled Reddick.

"We're both outfielders, but we've been close friends since the day we signed," Reddick said. "We've kept in touch no matter when it's been. Once I found out the news, it sent me to the floor. All he can do is get better this offseason, put it behind him and come back next year. That's all you can do."

Kalish, 23, made his big league debut with the Red Sox in 2010 and made significant contributions. He hit .252 with four homers and 24 RBIs in 53 games for Boston. Reddick, 24, made his major league debut in 2009 and played a total of 27 games. They shared the Boston outfield at times in 2010 and it should have been the same in 2011.

"It's great to have buddies like that, despite your competition with each other," Reddick said. "I think it makes it much more fun, being that me and him are kind of the same player. We play the game the way it should be played at 100 percent."

Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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