Long lost in our spring training consciousness, Josh Reddick is back with the big club to step in for the ailing J.D. Drew. Sox fans would welcome a reminder of his exploits in Fort Myers, where he batted .390 with seven doubles, a home run and nine RBIs.
Even a modest contribution would do wonders in enhancing the Boston outfield, especially with the prospect that Drew’s strained left hamstring may linger for longer than originally expected. Not to mention the fact that Drew had carried the load for an outfield that usually stacked the back of the lineup anyway.
But Reddick struggled to find a rhythm through two separate major league stints in late April and early June. He’s managed just a .176 BA on the season with two RBIs, shoved to the back of an outfield rotation chalk full of aging players. He’s only registered four plate appearances in a single game.
Reddick certainly got a lot of reps this spring. His 59 at-bats this spring were the fourth most of any Red Sox player. When given time to settle in, Reddick has shown he can duplicate the numbers that put him on the map this spring.
Yet at Triple-A Pawtucket, Reddick has failed to ratify this logic, hitting just .222 in 216 at bats. Not that it should be any cause for concern. At just 23 years of age — a 17th-round pick in 2006 — Reddick has time for a little seasoning. However his peers in the under-25 club — the likes of Jason Heyward, Jay Bruce and Mike Stanton — are proof that there’s no better place to learn than on the major league level.
Reddick can plaster a fastball, there’s no question about it. He’ll need to work on refining the fundamentals of his approach at the plate though. Before his most recent call-up he struck out 43 times, drawing only 16 walks — numbers that reveal his occasional inability to lock in on off-speed pitches.
Consistent starts in the shadow of patient hitters like Kevin Youkilis, one of the most patient hitters in the game today, may be a better recipe for development than constant exposure to the occasional bad habits of his Triple-A mates.
It sure was the case in Fort Myers.