GOODYEAR, Ariz. – Josh Reddick has his sights set on being in the A’s Opening Night lineup.
Whether that actually happens remains to be seen, as the A’s want to make sure their starting right fielder is not only fully healed from a strained right oblique, but feeling good in the batter’s box once he is.
Reddick played in just one exhibition before injuring himself while scaling the outfield wall during a defensive drill March 6. His recovery is going well, but he still hasn’t started taking soft-toss swings or batting practice of any kind.
Manager Bob Melvin mentioned a range of March 28-30 to begin getting Reddick into games, which would be next weekend. The A’s play their final Cactus League game April 1, and then play the Bay Bridge Series April 2-4 against the Giants before hosting their regular-season opener April 6 against Texas.
Does it leave enough time for Reddick to be ready come Opening Night?
“He will say he only needs ‘X’ amount of at-bats,” Melvin said before Sunday’s game against Cincinnati. “But we want to make sure he not only gets ‘X’ amount of at-bats, but is doing well. And that each and every day he’s not feeling what could be a significant issue if he re-injures it. We’re being slow with him for a reason.”
Reddick said on the day he suffered the injury that it didn’t feel as severe as a Grade 2 oblique strain he had in 2009 while in Boston’s organization that cost him two months.
He said he’s making throws from the outfield without discomfort, and though he feels a bit of tightness in the oblique when he swings, it loosens up after a few swings. Reddick thinks if he’s playing in games by next weekend, he can be ready by April 6.
“One hundred percent,” he said. “By end of this week, three or four games here, then three games (in the Bay Area). You figure if I play half the games here and all three there, and average three at-bats a game, it’s 15 to 20 at-bats. I think that’s enough. Usually in spring training, (you only get) maybe 30 anyway. A smaller workload won’t be a problem.”
Melvin said being in the Opening Day lineup isn’t of the utmost importance if a player returns shortly after that and is fully healthy, but the manager acknowledged that there’s “always that big star on Opening Day” as far as players are concerned.
If Reddick isn’t in the season-opening lineup, the A’s could play Ben Zobrist in right field with Eric Sogard handling second base, particularly against right-handed starting pitchers. If Rule 5 pick Mark Canha makes the 25-man roster, he would be an option for right field. Canha started in right field Sunday against the Reds. The A’s could also use Sam Fuld or Craig Gentry out there.