ATLANTA — Josh Reddick was just starting to get his season turned around following a stint on the disabled list, when his right knee necessitated a return to the sidelines.
Now, after a four-game span between trips to the DL, the veteran right fielder is on a hot streak.
Since returning to the active roster July 22, the South Effingham High School grad is 27-for-89, a .303 clip. With it, his average for the season has climbed to .254.
“I think it’s just a matter of being back healthy,” he said Saturday. “Sometimes, these breaks where you get a minor injury and some time off the field are the time to hit the reset button. You come out of a game where you’re not doing the best you’d like to do and you get a two-week, three-week break out of it, and it gives you a chance to hit the reset button. You overanalyze some stuff on your swing and come back and not worry about stuff and just go out and swing the bat. That’s all that seems to be happening.”
A hyperextended right knee put Reddick on the DL in early June. He was back for four games, going 5-for-11 at the plate, before the knee flared up again.
“It was frustrating, especially since I was swinging the bat so well.” He said. “The team was grooving, and I felt great. But I learned from experience last year, playing through injury and pain and stuff, that’s not going to help this team and not help myself.”
Reddick made a throw from the outfield against Miami, and when something didn’t feel right, he alerted the training staff.
“It didn’t hurt when I hit. It didn’t hurt when I ran,” he said. “When I made that throw, I felt something come through it. I didn’t want to get out there and make another throw and have something pop and go down with a flat tire.”
Now, he has a brace for his knee, but it’s not a protruding “linemen” brace, as he puts it, noting the large braces seen most on offensive linemen in football.
“As long as it keeps me on the field, I’m good with it,” Reddick said. “The only thing is getting comfortable with it. Once the game goes along, you tend to forget about it.”
The two trips to the DL may help Reddick down the stretch. He’s gotten a mid-season rest, and he acknowledged he wore down toward the end of the 2012 season. He played 156 games, a career high, but batted just .164 in September.
While most big leaguers get a respite during the All-Star break, Reddick was in the middle of a rehab assignment. Yet he thinks the time on the disabled list could keep him at close to full strength for the stretch drive.
“This year, I didn’t get the All-Star break. That comes with the territory of being on the DL for a month and a week,” he said. “As long as it gets me back to where I want to be, I’m happy. My body feels great. I get sore every now and then, just normal throughout the season. I feel I’m going to finish the season strong.”
The Athletics have led the American League West for most of the season, ceding the top spot to Anaheim this weekend. Oakland is in the middle of a five-game skid, and the A’s have dropped seven of the last eight.
Yet the A’s, judging by Reddick’s reaction, aren’t worrying just yet.
“It’s just bad timing,” he said. “We go through a slump that every team goes through. That’s just how baseball is. It’s all bad timing. We knew we had a great club and we showed that. A lot of people still didn’t believe in us, but we’re proving them wrong to this day.”
Oakland became one of the favorites to win the American League and is favored to win the World Series, after the Athletics traded for Jon Lester, the Boston Red Sox ace lefty, to join a staff that boasted Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija.
“It’s very, very scary to look at the rotation,” Reddick said.
The A’s, though, aren’t looking to October just yet. The Atlanta Braves completed a three-game sweep of the A’s on Sunday night, keeping Oakland in a virtual tie with the Angels for the AL West lead. Anaheim leads by .001 percentage point. Seattle is only 5.5 games behind, and Detroit is only six games back.
“We have a little more than a month and a half left, and you just worry about today,” Reddick said. “You don’t look far ahead into the future. You take care of today’s ballgame — then you worry about tomorrow. You don’t worry about a team like them losing. You can only control what you can do. We can’t worry about (the Angels) losing. We have to go out there and win.”