Programming note: A’s-Giants coverage starts tonight at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
SAN FRANCISCO -- It was the unluckiest of home runs, if such a thing exists for a hitter.
Josh Reddick crushed a towering shot Thursday night at AT&T Park that seemed ticketed for McCovey Cove. Somehow the ball managed to strike a flag pole and bounce right back on to the field as Reddick began his trot around the bases.
“I wish I could have seen how far it went,” Reddick said afterward.
Of all the encouraging signs the A’s saw in a 4-0 victory over the Giants to open the Bay Bridge Series, Reddick’s performance was at or near the top of the list. His sixth-inning, two-run shot off Tim Hudson was the kind of snapshot that was mostly missing in 2013.
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A sprained right wrist prevented Reddick from turning on pitches and driving the ball to his pull side. His power display Thursday was reminiscent of his 32-homer season of 2012, and it was a continuation of Reddick’s strong offensive showing during exhibitions.
He’s hitting .320 through 18 games with three homers and 15 RBI. Fully healthy now, Reddick’s says being 100 percent will make a big difference for him after offseason surgery to repair his wrist.
He says pitchers were “licking their chops” to face him last season, knowing they could bust him in. He hit just .226 with 12 homers and 56 RBI, a steep drop-off from .242, 32 homers and 85 RBI in 2012.
“Those are the types of swings you’re seeing this spring, when the ball is jumping off his bat,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He seems to be a lot more balanced. He’s not swinging around the wrist.”
In a more familiar sight, Reddick turned in another gem while patrolling right field. With two on and two out in the bottom of the sixth, Pablo Sandoval drove a ball deep to right-center off A’s reliever Dan Otero. Reddick raced toward the wall and made a pretty running catch to extinguish the rally.
The Giants have had their fill of Reddick’s defensive exploits, having watched him rob Michael Morse of two would-be homers in the Cactus League opener between the clubs.
“Gee, he’s killed us,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s a ballplayer. … On that ball Pablo hit, I thought he got us back in the game, and Reddick made a nice catch.”
Reddick said there’s been no lingering doubts about his wrist throughout spring training. After being cleared for activity in the winter, he began taking batting practice at his old stomping grounds -- South Effingham High School in Guyton, Ga. The wrist felt good, and that helped ease his mind.
“I’m going to be more of a threat in the middle of our lineup,” Reddick said. “With the guys hitting ahead of me, I should have plenty of guys on base to drive in.”