One way or another, Josh Reddick usually winds up a topic of conversation for A’s fans.
Sometimes it’s for off-the-wall reasons – dressing up like Spider Man or strolling to the plate to the sounds of Wham!.
Other times he grabs your attention simply through the box score. Such was the case in Oakland’s 11-1 thrashing of the Cleveland Indians on Friday night. Reddick delivered the marquee moment in an eight-run second inning, pounding a 1-0 offering from Zach McAllister for a grand slam into the right field seats at Progressive Field.
Five innings later, he went deep again with a two-run shot off Carlos Carrasco. He wound up with a career-high six RBI, one of the occasional glimpses we get into the kind of offensive force he can be.
It might be “Careless Whisper,” his offbeat walk-up song, that’s had everybody talking the past few days. But the best way for Reddick to stay relevant is by being a consistent run producer, something we haven’t seen since the first half of his 2012 season.
His struggles early this year have been well-chronicled. His average hovered under the .200 mark until late April. A’s hitting coach Chili Davis maintained confidence in him all along, putting in extra hours in the cage with the right fielder.
Over the past week, there have been signs of a potential turnaround. Reddick drove the ball to center and left field a couple times on the last homestand, and any time he’s spraying liners to the opposite field, it’s a good thing.
Then he cleared the bases Friday with the second grand slam of his big league career.
It came after Derek Norris drew a walk to load the bases off Indians starter Zach McAllister, who was giving strong warning signs of the disaster his night was about to become. Reddick took a pitch in the dirt, then turned on a two-seam fastball and drove it over the right field wall.
“I wasn’t trying to hit a home run,” Reddick said. “I just got under it enough. I was just looking for something firm and over the middle of the plate that I can drive.”
His two-run blast in the seventh gave him the fifth multi-homer game of his career.
Funnily enough, Reddick said his swing didn’t feel great before the game, a sentiment shared by Norris last Saturday when Norris enjoyed his own six-RBI game.
“I didn’t have the best batting practice today, so that’s kind of odd how that works out,” Reddick said.
The 32-homer season Reddick delivered in 2012, his first year with the A’s, left him a tough act to follow. Will he ever reach that homer total again? Maybe not. Is it even important that he does? Not really. Being a 15-20 homer, 70-to-80 RBI guy – combined with his outstanding defense – would make him an incredibly valuable player.
On Friday, he showed what a weapon he can be hitting as low as eighth in the order. If he starts driving in runs with any sort of regularity, together with Norris he’ll make the bottom half of Oakland’s batting order look a lot more threatening.
A’s fans will also keep talking about Reddick, and believe it or not, it will be mainly for baseball-related reasons.