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Patience pays for Reddick

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / June 26, 2011

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PITTSBURGH — Since 2007, when he played his first minor league game, the Red Sox have stressed plate discipline with Josh Reddick. They wanted him to go to the plate with a plan and be more selective.

But he took that as more of a suggestion, not an order.

“It’s been tough to drive that into my brain because I’ve never really been able to do that growing up,’’ said Reddick, who had succeeded in high school and junior college with an aggressive approach.

The point was finally driven home last season when the Red Sox gave more playing time to Ryan Kalish and Daniel Nava than they did Reddick.

“That was a big wake-up call, realizing that they would find somebody to do the job when I wouldn’t,’’ Reddick said. “I always heard that they would do that. But I think actually seeing it happen was a bigger development stage for me. After that happened, I went back down and said, ‘Let’s figure this out and get going.’ ’’

Reddick has drawn 33 walks in 191 plate appearances for Triple A Pawtucket this season. That’s eight more than he had in 451 plate appearances in 2010.

The improved patience was part of the reason Reddick has had two stints with the Red Sox this season and was in right field against the Pirates last night.

“I think he’s a much more mature kid each time we see him and that’s to his credit,’’ manager Terry Francona said.

He continued his torrid hitting last night, going 2 for 3 with a home run and a walk to raise his average to .462 (12 for 26). With Carl Crawford on the disabled list and the Sox not getting much production from J.D. Drew, Mike Cameron, and Darnell McDonald, the 24-year-old Reddick could get a significant chance.

“He’s done a terrific job. He’s really given us a lift,’’ Francona said. “He’s young and he’s kind of streaky. He’s not as streaky as he used to be. But when he’s going through a good period, be can put a jolt in the ball, he can run, he can play the outfield. He’s helped us. I hope it continues because with Carl gone now, it lessens some of that burden.’’

Francona has been hesitant to use the lefthanded-hitting Reddick against lefthanded pitchers. But Reddick pinch hit against lefty Tony Watson in the seventh inning Friday night and drilled a single to center. He had another single in the eighth inning against Watson last night.

After last season, Reddick is just happy to be in the big leagues. And now he’s willing to lay off strikes on the corner to wait for a better pitch. The lesson was learned.

“Apparently it’s taken 4 1/2 years,’’ he said.

Beckett pitches in For the first time since he was felled by a bad case of the flu, Josh Beckett threw off the mound. The righthander threw 50 pitches in all, some from flat ground. He emerged tired, but happy.

“It was all fastballs, but I feel pretty good,’’ he said. “Everything was like I hoped it would be.’’

Jenks starts back Righthander Bobby Jenks started a rehab assignment by pitching an inning for Double A Portland at New Hampshire. He allowed a hit, struck out one, and threw eight of his 13 pitches for strikes. Jenks has not pitched since June 7 because of a strained intercostal muscle on the left side of his back . . . Daniel Bard, who turned 25 yesterday, made just his third appearance since June 10, throwing 1 1/3 scoreless innings. He has not given up a run in his last 12 innings . . . The Pirates designated catcher Dusty Brown for assignment. Brown, who was in the Sox organization from 2001-10, was 3 for 28 in 11 games for the Pirates.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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