OAKLAND, Calif. — The fans at Oakland Coliseum, what few there are, have embraced right fielder Josh Reddick for reasons that go beyond his team-leading 28 home runs and 73 RBIs.
With his long hair and scraggly beard, Reddick is one of the more recognizable of the Athletics. He also has opened himself up to the fans, bantering with them on Twitter and even between innings when he goes out to right field.
Getting traded from the Red Sox to the Athletics last Dec. 28 was a career changer in every way for the 25-year-old.
“It’s fun,” said Reddick. “In Boston I would get noticed every now and then. But here it seems like every time I’m out somewhere, I hear somebody saying, ‘Hey, Josh, good game.’ It’s a great feeling.”
Reddick started in right field against the Sox Saturday night. On Friday, he was 2 for 5 with a double and a grand slam in a 20-2 Oakland victory.
Reddick went into Saturday’s game 8 for 26 against the Sox this season with five extra-base hits and nine RBIs in seven games.
“I take satisfaction doing what I’ve done against them. That’s just baseball,” Reddick said. “But beyond that, I’m not going to talk about their issues and point fingers. It doesn’t sound like one bit of fun what they’re going through. I’m glad I’m not a part of it.”
Reddick and minor league infielder Miles Head were traded to Oakland for righthander Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney.
For now, it’s a wildly lopsided trade for the Athletics. Reddick has been at the core of Oakland’s resurgence, hitting for power and playing solid defense. Head has hit .336 with a .980 OPS in the minors, climbing to Double A Midland halfway through the season.
Bailey had thumb surgery before the season and didn’t return until Aug. 14. Sweeney hit .260 then was lost for the season on July 30 when he punched a metal door and broke a bone in his left hand.
For Reddick, moving to Oakland was a good fit for his personality.
“It’s a different world and a different kind of clubhouse,” Reddick said. “I feel like this clubhouse is more open. Over there it was more like younger guys kept to themselves and kept their mouths shut. It was old-fashioned.
“Over here it doesn’t matter if you have a month in or 10 years in, everybody interacts with everybody else and it’s loud. It’s been that way since the first day this season. I’m not saying it’s a negative in Boston; it’s just something totally different. It’s just how different organizations can be and it works better for us to be more open.”
Red Sox outfielder Ryan Kalish suspected the trade would benefit his friend.
“Red has always been able to hit,” Kalish said. “He brings a lot to the game and he has a lot of confidence. He’s a free spirit and he is who he is. You either like him or you don’t and they love him here.
“He’s got that swagger and he came to a place where he gets to play every single day. That’s what he needed. He has made the adjustments he needed to make and came out swinging. Guys need playing time to develop and he’s getting that playing time here.”
Said Reddick: “Nothing against the Red Sox, but I didn’t get enough chances to go out there and play. It’s tough when you’re worried about being in the lineup every day. That was one thing they made sure of when I got traded here, that I would be an everyday guy here. That was a big thing for me, to go home and know that I would be in the lineup the next day.”
Through Friday, the Athletics were four games out of first in the American League West and led the wild-card race by a game on the Orioles and 3½ games on Tampa Bay.
“We’re just proving everybody wrong,” Reddick said. “It’s just such a blast to be doing what we’re doing. To do it against teams who spend all this money is one of the better feelings in the world.”
Playing out string
The Sox are on a pace to lose 86 games, which hasn’t happened since 1992, when they dropped 89. Manager Bobby Valentine was asked what his expectations were for the final month of the season.
“Good play,” he said. “Hoping for guys to keep building the individual statistics and hope that they collectively build the team statistics. I think we’re going to win a lot of games this last month.”
Valentine was asked why he believes that, given the way the team has played to date.
“Why shouldn’t I think that?” he said. “I’m the manager of the team and we get paid to play and win and we’re going to win.”
Red Sox starters have a 5.00 ERA, one of the worst in baseball. But Valentine said he isn’t planning on any changes to the rotation. “No,” he said. “Have any suggestions?”
Aaron Cook, who gave up six runs in 2⅔ innings Friday night, remains scheduled to face the Mariners on Wednesday. Cook is 1-7 with a 5.67 ERA in his last 10 starts.
Daniel Bard pitched an inning Friday night, allowing a home run by George Kottaras. It was his first major league appearance since June 3. Saturday night, he pitched the seventh inning and gave up a home run to Chris Carter. He struck out two and did not allow a walk.
“I definitely made big steps in the right direction and I just want to continue it for the next month,” Bard said Friday night. “I know I have to prove some things to some people and I’m ready to do that.
“It was good. I felt really comfortable out there. The adrenaline is there. It’s not the eighth inning with a one-run lead, but it’s a lot bigger stage than I’ve been used to last couple of months. I wasn’t quite as sharp as I wanted to be [but] it was great to be out there.”
The Sox plan to use Bard judiciously through the end of the season to try to rebuild his confidence.
Milestone in sight
Dustin Pedroia entered Saturday night’s game with 995 hits. He would be the 31st player in Sox history to reach 1,000 . . . Saturday was the five-year anniversary of Clay Buchholz’s no-hitter against Baltimore . . . Lefthanded reliever Rich Hill was activated off the 60-day disabled list . . . The Sox were 9-20 in August despite leading the majors with 290 hits and ranking fourth in the American League with 139 runs. Their pitchers had a 5.54 ERA in August. That may have had something to do with it.