It took Josh Reddick a few different opportunities, but he's making it count this time around.
After getting largely passed over last season in favor of journeymen outfielders like Darnell McDonald and Jonathan Van Every along with rookies Ryan Kalish and Daniel Nava, the rookie outfielder has learned from that experience. He's got a loose grasp on the starting right fielder job with the Boston Red Sox, and he tightened the squeeze just a little more on Friday night with a two-run bomb in the sixth inning that amounted to the winning difference in a 6-4 victory over the Mariners at Safeco Park.
Reddick smoked a Blake Beavan fastball on a 1-2 count and hit the ball 393 feet away off the right-field scoreboard facade directly below the "Hit it Here" Cafe windows, and had a few admirers following the game.
The home run extinguished a 1-for-14 mini-slump for Reddick, and showed the high end of his power potential at this point in the 24-year-old's baseball career.
"It was a 1-2 fastball that got a little too much of the plate. Looking back on it (Beavan) was trying to go inside and caught too much plate," said Reddick. "He made a mistake and I didn't miss it. I think that's about all I've got in my 185-pound frame right there."
He hasn't missed much during his 2011 audition, and that will have to continue with J.D. Drew taking live batting practice and moving closer to a return from his left shoulder injury. Certainly Drew will get a shot at some playing time, but Reddick is certainly hoping to make it difficult to sit him down if he keeps raking at such a prodigious clip. Reddick leads all rookies in batting average and slugging percentage, and sits second in on base percentage this season.
That's a far cry from Reddick's previous numbers headed into this year's audition once Carl Crawford and Drew came down with injuries. Reddick had hit .201 with three home runs and 13 RBI with a .572 OPS in 134 at bats coming into this season, but he's improved that to .316 with six home runs, 21 RBI and a .907 OPS in 136 at bats this time around.
That's a big difference.
"Playing big-league baseball is always fun. Luckily I'm on a first place team right now and we're contending," said Reddick. "Any day playing baseball up here is a huge feeling for me and a childhood dream. So I'm going to enjoy it as much as I can."
This season is clearly a little more of the good dream for Reddick as his batting average is still strongly over .300, and it looks like there is a lot more where that came from.
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