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Minor League notebook

It's no walk in the park

Reddick honing his batting eye

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / July 11, 2008

Josh Reddick isn't looking to walk when he steps to the plate. He's looking for a hit. And, given his .349 batting average, 9 doubles, 8 triples, and 15 home runs in 68 games with Single A Lancaster, that approach appears to be working.

Not that the Red Sox aren't interested in altering his philosophy a bit.

"He has a very good ability to make contact," director of player development Mike Hazen said. "He doesn't strike out a ton, either. We certainly don't want to eliminate the aggressiveness or the impact he has when he swings, we want to get him in a better frame of mind in terms of overaggressiveness. With his ability to make hard contact in all parts of the strike zone on all pitches, we're adding a tool for him as he moves up the ladder."

The Sox are high on Reddick, as were the Indians, rumored to have asked about the outfielder in talks about pitcher C.C. Sabathia. As Hazen said, "I think he impacts the baseball, so I think he's going to have a chance to hit with power. He has the ability to hit balls and drive balls that most guys can't."

The walks are more of an issue. In 292 plate appearances, Reddick has just 14 walks and 42 strikeouts.

"Growing up, I was never really a big walk guy," said Reddick, a 21-year-old. "It's really hard to make that quick adjustment like they want me to. I'm trying to see more pitches at the plate. I like to attack the ball early in the count. As soon as I see a pitch I think I can handle, I go after it.

"They want me to be selectively aggressive at the plate. I've always thought I can drive any pitch. I try to get my hands through the ball and drive it anywhere I can. I've just been so used to going about it this way. I understand what they're trying to do and I'm working at it. It's tough. I'm so accustomed to doing that. It's worked so well for me all my life. It's hard to go up there and try to work a walk."

Reddick thinks about it on the bench, though not at the plate. There, the 17th-round draft pick in 2006 out of Middle Georgia College - a player almost always underrated and under the radar - tries not to think about much at all.

"In my meetings, they've told me that they love the way I approach the game," Reddick said. "I've been told that [walks are] the only thing that's holding me back right now. They want to see me walk more before I go to Double A. I've done it this way all my life. Now they're telling you it's the only thing holding you back. It's kind of frustrating.

"I just hope they understand that I'm trying to do it, not just ignoring what they say."

Getting instruction

Though Michael Almanzar has been highly successful through 16 professional games, it's difficult to project a 17-year-old. The Red Sox have an offseason plan for the shortstop, who is playing for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox. He is likely to head to the instructional league to "continue to refine and define his physical frame and work on his foot speed and quickness," Hazen said.

"Physically, he's got a lot of work to do to put on some weight," Hazen said. "He's making positive strides physically and fundamentally. We're not looking at numbers. We're not looking at performance. "We're looking at him to show us some consistency."

Almanzar is hitting .359 (23 for 64) with five doubles and nine RBIs.

Zink stingy

Pawtucket knuckleballer Charlie Zink hasn't allowed an earned run in his last 17 innings. He improved to 10-2 with a win in the second game of a doubleheader Tuesday, allowing one unearned run, five hits, and one walk, lowering his ERA to 2.28 . . . Over his last 10 games, Greenville outfielder Ryan Kalish, 20, is hitting .342 (13 for 38) . . . Jonathan Van Every, who has already earned a promotion to the Sox this season, hit his 22d home run Tuesday. The 28-year-old outfielder has a .952 on-base plus slugging percentage with the PawSox . . . Lancaster second baseman Chih-Hsien Chiang has a career-high 12-game hitting streak, during which he is batting .486 (17 for 35) with 11 RBIs. Chiang, 20, is hitting .294 for the season, including averages over .370 in June and July.

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