MESA, Ariz. – The A’s plan for right fielder Josh Reddick to begin the season on the disabled list due to his strained right oblique.
Reddick is coming along well in his rehab and is scheduled to play in a minor league game Sunday if he feels good leading up to then. But he’s appeared in just one exhibition, way back on March 4, and Oakland manager Bob Melvin said there just isn’t enough time to have Reddick ready for the April 6 season opener against the Texas Rangers.
Reddick had been eyeing Opening Night as a target to be ready.
“At this point, we don’t really have a choice,” Reddick said. “As much as I was hoping to be ready for Opening Day, and I think I could be, it does make sense to take a little more extra time to play it on the safe side. That way I’m getting things taken care of while they’re doing their thing up there, because obviously I don’t want to play in the Bay Bridge Series and then have something happen and make it even worse.
“I was kind of hurt when it happened, but at the same time, I understand why they’re doing it.”
With him sidelined, Melvin mentioned one scenario could have Ben Zobrist handling right field and Eric Sogard playing second base. That seems a possibility particularly against right-handers, since Sogard bats left-handed.
“But again, we have a lot of combinations and a lot of versatility,” Melvin said.
If Reddick suffers no setbacks and spends the minimum amount of time on the 15-day DL, he would actually only miss the A’s first five games. Teams are allowed to backdate a season-opening DL stint to 10 days before Opening Day, which is April 5 on the MLB calendar, even though the A’s don’t play their first game until April 6. That means Reddick can return as soon as April 11 against Seattle.
But Reddick will miss the grand stage that comes with the opener.
“It just stinks, those five games, because the biggest thing is Opening Night,” he said. “It’s a big night to be a part of, and I’m going to miss it. But the ultimate goal is being healthy.”
He took two rounds of batting practice Thursday and was scheduled for a full round of BP in the cage Friday, since the A’s didn’t hit on the field.
Reddick sprained a wrist going for a foul ball near the wall in Houston in 2013, and he’s always one to throw his body around with abandon trying to make a catch. He was asked if he’ll adjust that mentality in an effort to avoid the DL moving forward.
“I know I can think about it more, but it’s more of doing it in the spur of the moment. That’s going to be the tough part,” Reddick said. “I’m not going to be running for the ball and have two seconds to think about whether I should dive for it. I’m just going to react to it.”
His absence will mean an open spot on the 25-man roster, at least for a brief period. The A’s have several candidates to choose from. Billy Burns has impressed this spring, and non-roster outfielder Jason Pridie can play all three spots out there. Utility infielders Tyler Ladendorf and Andy Parrino will also merit consideration because they can both play the outfield too.
Ladendorf in particular has stood out this spring, entering Friday’s game against Texas with a .313 batting average and a team-high 11 RBI. Unlike Parrino, he’s already on the 40-man roster, which works to his advantage.