Effingham Herald editor Patrick Donahue spoke with former South Effingham High School star and current Pawtucket Red Sox outfielder Josh Reddick earlier this year. This is from that interview.
With the Pawtucket Red Sox season having ended Monday, Josh Reddick is waiting for a return to the major leagues.
Reddick, who was called up last season on two occasions, has had two stints with the big league Boston Red Sox this season. Injuries have ravaged the Red Sox this year. Starting center fielder Mike Cameron and left fielder Jacoby Ellsbury played a combined 66 games before both were sidelined for the season, and reserve Jeremy Hermida played in 52 games before getting hurt and eventually released. Reddick remained in
Pawtucket since being sent back down to Triple-A as Ryan Kalish and Daniel Nava were summoned to the big leagues.
Yet he remains one of the Sox’ prize minor league jewels. Even after he was sent down the first time, in April, he remained optimistic.
“I’d love to stay up there longer,” he said. “It just didn’t work out in my favor. They were facing a lot of left-handers.”
The Sox brass would rather have Reddick playing on a regular basis instead of sitting the bench — a decision that met with the Guyton resident’s approval.
“We don’t need you up here sitting the bench. We need you playing,’” he said of what he was told. “So it was not a problem for me.”
Reddick struggled through May, hitting just .181. It dropped his average to .191 for the year at Pawtucket. He also had more strikeouts (38) than hits (34) at the end of the month.
“I still got to develop a lot more before I’m ready up there,” he said. “There’s still so much for me to learn down here. I think I can compete up there, but not on a continual basis.”
The Sox also don’t want to temper Reddick’s natural aggressiveness at the plate. He’s still only walked 25 times but he has now struck out just 73 times for the season.
“At the same time, you have to pick the right pitch and hit the pitch where it’s located,” he said. “Whether it’s the first pitch of the at-bat or the 10th pitch, you have to be ready to crush it.”
In the starts of a slump back in late April, Reddick resorted to a tactic before that’s worked — even if it does little for his appearance.
He got a Mohawk.
“I got off to a slow start. It’s not the first time I resorted to a haircut to turn my luck around,” Reddick said. “I don’t care that much about my looks. It’s been convenient for me the last two years. Whatever works, man.”
But as the summer heated up, so did the lefty-swinging Reddick, especially in July and August. He hit .332 over those two months, with nine home runs, 17 doubles — and only 25 strikeouts.
Reddick, the PawSox starting center fielder, leads the team in home runs and runs batted in. He’s second in doubles (only first base slugging prospect Lars Anderson has more) and tops the team in triples. He’s been named the International League player of the week twice.
It’s not as if the Red Sox front office needs for Reddick to gain their attention. Successive strong showings in spring training have done that.
Reddick hit .390 with two homers and nine doubles, posting an OPS of 1.091.
But the Red Sox, with defending American League steals leader Ellsbury in left, Gold Glove winner Mike Cameron in center and high-priced free agent J.D. Drew in right, optioned Reddick to Pawtucket to start the season. He was recalled after Ellsbury and Cameron were hurt for the first time.
Reddick squeezed quite a lot of momentum from his big Grapefruit League campaign.
“I think they had a feeling what they were going to do,” Reddick said. “I just try to go out there and open more eyes like I’ve been doing in the past and show them I’m that much more ready to be up there and compete with those guys. It was a great boost of confidence to me that I could hit those starting pitchers and not just the guys who come in late like Double A and Triple A guys. That was a big confidence boost.”
And when his swing falters and he needs advice, he often turns to his dad. Three thousand miles away, with the younger Reddick struggling at Single A Lancaster in the California League, dad Kenny knew to tell Josh to “get your elbow up and quit chasing balls,” Josh said.
“He’s been everything to me,” Reddick said. “Still coaching me to this day. He connects and it shows how much he cares.”