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Reddick making debut in big leagues one to remember
08.04 reddick front
Guyton’s Josh Reddick didn’t expect to get called up to the Boston Red Sox this season. But he was summoned Friday and has started two games, getting his first big-league hit and his first big-league home run. - photo by File photo/Portland Press-Telegram

A bloody nose. A shaving cream pie in the face from Big Papi.

And a debut that is turning heads and opening eyes in Boston.

Josh Reddick, the 22-year-old outfielder from Guyton and former South Effingham High School star, made his major league debut over the weekend for the Boston Red Sox. In short order, Reddick went 4-for-11 with two doubles, a home run and two runs batted in.

His OPS — the combination of on-base percentage and slugging percentage — is 1.235.

“I just want to leave a good impression and not do too much,” Reddick told reporters after Sunday’s game. “I didn’t think I’d make it this year or next year.”

Reddick was playing Boston’s Double-A affiliate in Portland, Maine, and the Sea Dogs were in Harrisburg, Penn., for a series when the Red Sox brass called Reddick. They sent a car service to get him and take him to Baltimore, he told WEEI-AM, and was there at the team hotel awaiting further word.

“My first thought was trade,” he said. “I didn’t even expect to get the phone call to come to the park. I definitely didn’t expect to start (Saturday or Sunday).”

Reddick got into the game Friday night as a ninth-inning replacement for right fielder Rocco Baldelli. He grounded out in his first at-bat and took the field in the bottom half of the inning.

“I took a couple of deep breaths and tried to play like it was another game back home, like I was playing back home in Georgia,” he said on NESN.

But Saturday, with left fielder Jason Bay sidelined with an injury, Reddick was put into the starting lineup. He doubled against Baltimore Orioles starter David Hernandez for his first major-league hit in his second at-bat that night.

“I ain’t going to lie to you. It was emotional,” said Tony Kirkland, Reddick’s coach at South Effingham High School. “My eyes watered up when he got that first hit.”

He finished that night 2-for-4 and just as he started a postgame television interview with NESN, the Red Sox cable outlet, slugger David Ortiz rubbed a towel full of shaving cream into Reddick’s face.

Welcome to the big leagues, rookie.

Reddick’s homer off reliever Brian Bass went to the opposite field, just out of the reach of Orioles left fielder Felix Pie before it bounced back onto the field.

“He made ‘SportsCenter,’” Kirkland said, noting his former pupil’s highlights on ESPN.

Prior to that, the game was delayed as Reddick’s nose started bleeding. The Red Sox training staff stanched the flow and he resumed his spot in left field.

“I don’t think I’ve played in heat that hot yet,” he said to reporters following the game. “It threw my body off a little bit.”

Kirkland noted how often Reddick has had two strikes in the count in his brief big league career. His home run came on a two-strike pitch — after Reddick fouled off several pitches — as did his second hit Saturday night, a double to right off reliever Chris Ray.

“I was yelling at the computer, ‘fight off the pitch, fight off the pitch, put it in play,’” Kirkland said.

Reddick told WEEI’s Joe Castiglione, the Red Sox radio play-by-play announcer, he thought Orioles center fielder Adam Jones might flag down his drive to the right-center gap.

“When I got to second base, I tried to control my emotions,” he said, adding he received congratulations from Orioles players, including shortstop Cesar Izturis, on his first big-league hit.

Reddick told Castiglione he had about 40 text messages and 15 calls on his cell phone after Saturday night’s game.

But since he was called up so quickly, none of his family members could make it to Baltimore in time to see his debut. However, he said he expects to have a contingent of well-wishers on hand for tonight’s game in Tampa.

Reddick also told Castiglione that his mother has told him from the time he was 5 years old, his dream was to make it to the major leagues.

His parents worked with him on his hitting — with his mother throwing him pitches and his dad, who lost half an arm and two fingers on the other arm in a work-related accident, teaching him perspective.

“It was getting to the point where it was kinda aggravating in high school, because he would make me do 100 swings off the tee before I could do my homework,” Reddick told WEEI, “and I was looking forward to doing my homework. But it’s paid off for me.”

Reddick also credited Kirkland for helping him hone his skills.

As Reddick’s family makes the trek from Effingham for the Red Sox series against the Tampa Bay Rays, Kirkland will be making the journey from Moultrie, where he is the head baseball coach at Colquitt County High. He’s skipping out on new teacher orientation and an appearance before the Colquitt County commissioners tonight.

Kirkland has had four players reach Double-A, but Reddick is the first of his former pupils to hit the big leagues.

“It’s every high school coach’s dream to coach one (big leaguer),” Kirkland said. “He’s got that Michael Jordan-type story,” the coach added, referring to the basketball legend getting cut from the team as a ninth grader. “He was not a standout from the time he was born. He had to face adversity from middle school to early in high school.

“It’s just kind of special.”