OAKLAND – Josh Reddick connected for his 20th homer Wednesday night, a nice milestone to mark his impressive offensive revival this season.
That wasn’t dominating his thoughts as he left the Coliseum however. The two balls that clanked off his glove for errors in right field put a damper on what could have been a triumphant night individually. Each miscue contributed to Texas scoring rallies in the fourth and fifth innings as the Rangers rolled to a 10-3 victory over the A’s.
“I’m going to go home and think more about the errors than the home run,” Reddick predicted after the game.
The good certainly has outweighed the bad in 2015 for the 28-year-old Georgia native. He has molded himself into a fine overall hitter who settled into the No. 3 spot against right-handed starters. He’s taking the ball to the opposite field more, finding more success against lefties, and closing in on an 80-RBI season.
As he’s raised his offense to another level, however, another familiar part of Reddick’s game is missing. The “Don’t Run on Reddick” motto that’s been synonymous with Oakland’s strong-armed right fielder hasn’t resonated as much this season.
Opposing base runners have challenged him more often and found success doing so. He has five assists this season, the same total as 2014. But the mere threat of his throwing arm hasn’t been as big of an asset.
This isn’t lost on Reddick.
In the fourth inning, he charged on Mitch Moreland’s single to right and had designs on cutting down Adrian Beltre at the plate. But he couldn’t come up with the ball cleanly, and the run scored and Prince Fielder advanced to third on Reddick’s first error. On the second one, in the fifth, Reddick simply had a ball heading down the line bounce off his glove, allowing Delino DeShields to reach third on what was scored a double.
Once football season begins, the bleachers get pulled out for every Raider game. That wreaks havoc on the Coliseum’s grass and makes the ball shoot through the outfield faster. It happened to left fielder Mark Canha later in Wednesday’s game.
Reddick said he should have known better on Moreland’s single.
“I just got too aggressive with the (poor) field conditioning,” he said. “I experienced it (Tuesday) night when I saw a ball jump hard right in the first inning when Beltre hit it. Tonight shouldn’t have been any different. I think I just came in too hot. It’s been getting to me -- I haven’t thrown anybody out this year, it feels like. That could be a part of it.”
Reddick won a Gold Glove in 2012, when he piled up 15 outfield assists. That season he also hit 32 homers. But injuries took their toll each of the past two seasons, and his power numbers dipped to 12 homers in 2013 and 2014 each. This season his numbers are up across the board, including a .272 batting average, compared to .242 in the 32-homer year of 2012. His OPS is also higher this year (.783) than in 2012 (.768).
But Reddick takes pride in his defense. The fact that his throwing has been off irks him.
“It’s been a matter of not-so-great accuracy sometimes,” he said. “I guess guys are picking better spots to run in, would be a fair assessment. But my throws just haven’t been on line this year, and when they’re on line it seems they don’t run. I’ve been short-hopping a lot of guys. … I just haven’t been able to find that perfect spot to throw it to get that long hop and make sure it works out.”
But A’s manager Bob Melvin was impressed that Reddick didn’t take his defensive troubles to the plate with him Wednesday.
“You don’t see very often a one-error night (from him), let alone a two-error night,” Melvin said. “There are times in your career it’s gonna happen. But he tried to get a solid at-bat (in the sixth) and hit the ball out of the ballpark. Twenty (homers) is a nice round number. It’s not something you’re gonna focus on tonight. But at the end of the year, when you add them all up, 20 is a good number to have.”