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Healthy cuts for sick Bay

He leaves Orioles feeling queasy

Rookie Josh Reddick collected a single and a run after taking over for Jason Bay, who left the game because of illness. Rookie Josh Reddick collected a single and a run after taking over for Jason Bay, who left the game because of illness. (Rob Carr/Associated Press)
By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / September 19, 2009

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BALTIMORE - With his roster expanded, Red Sox manager Terry Francona has the luxury of being careful with his starting lineup. Jason Bay reported to Camden Yards feeling under the weather yesterday and promised to inform his manager if he began feeling worse during last night’s game against the Orioles.

After socking a home run and chasing down a couple of fly balls, that moment occurred for Bay after the fourth inning and Francona inserted Josh Reddick, who proceeded to lace a single to left and score an insurance run in a 3-1 victory in front of 26,812.

Bay had homered and scored two runs, and with the Sox leading, 2-1, decided it was best to take the rest of the night off. He was settled enough to speak after the game, and said he was bound to get sick because his daughter, Addison, has been battling the flu.

“My daughter has been throwing up for five days, so it’s only a matter of time,’’ said Bay, who crushed his 34th homer in the fourth inning. “If I feel good [today] I’ll play. But I just didn’t sleep very well [Thursday] night and I just came in and felt like I was getting real sick there for a bit and I didn’t take BP or anything. Halfway through the game I just ran out of steam.’’

Bay is hitting .321 the past 24 games and has knocked in 32 runs in his past 35 games. His importance to the lineup is unquestioned, but at a time when the Sox appear to have the wild card all but wrapped up and young talent ready to contribute, Francona had no hesitation to go with Reddick.

“[Bay] was sick, we tried to get him some IV fluids before the game and we couldn’t do it, just didn’t quite have the time,’’ Francona said. “I think he just didn’t feel good.’’

Reddick led off the sixth and smacked Jeremy Guthrie’s 2-and-2 pitch to right field for a single. Reddick raced to third on Alex Gonzalez’s single to shallow right and scored on Jacoby Ellsbury’s two-out single to left.

The 22-year-old Reddick hit just .214 for Double A Portland last season, so he had no illusion that he would make the major league club this year. He has been called up three times for spot defensive and pinch-hitting duties and is relishing his role as a September call-up trying to help the Sox clinch a playoff spot.

“I just told myself to be ready just in case because you never know what can happen,’’ Reddick said. “They didn’t tell me anything [about Bay] but I just kept myself loose and tried not to sit down a whole lot and it worked out in my favor.’’

And last night may have been Reddick’s most productive appearance since he went 2 for 6 with his first big league home run in an 18-10 victory in Baltimore Aug. 2. Since then, Reddick has struggled at the plate in spot starts and struck out 12 times in his previous 40 at-bats.

But that hasn’t dampened his confidence or desire to contribute during the stretch run. And that was evident when he slapped that key single to right.

“Sometimes I find myself trying to do too much and I have to take the same approach as if I was starting,’’ he said.

“I don’t want to sound too cocky but I already try to make myself feel comfortable in the box no matter where I’m at. But it felt good because I got my first [big league] hit here and my first home run here so that adds a little bit to it.’’

Reddick is beyond the giddiness of making a major league roster, but not by much. He began 2009 with Portland and was called up from the Sea Dogs July 31 and then optioned to Pawtucket six days later. He was recalled for a third time Sept. 2 after rosters were expanded and has played in five games since.

“It’s a great level of confidence in myself that they see that kind of confidence in me to come out here and help these guys perform,’’ he said. “The biggest thing for me is coming in here and learning and feeling the experience of the playoff run.

“As a young guy, especially in this organization, there’s a lot to learn and I’m just taking it all in and trying to keep my mouth shut as much as possible.’’

Gary Washburn can be reached at gwashburn@globe.com.

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