What a difference three spots in the batting order makes. A’s right fielder Josh Reddick was dropped from third to sixth in the lineup, and in two games since the switch, he looks like a different hitter. After notching three hits Saturday, Reddick went 2 for 4 and snapped his 14-game homerless streak in Monday’s 3-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians. The right fielder will tell you himself that he’s more relaxed right now hitting out of the spotlight of the No. 3 spot. His 14 for 94 slump persuaded manager Bob Melvin to drop him a few notches in the lineup to take some pressure off his shoulders.
Because Reddick got off to such a great start this season, I think it’s easy to overlook the fact that this is his first full major league season. He probably shouldn’t be hitting third, but the A’s have needed him there and he produced in the first half of the season. He’d been in a prolonged slump of late, and A’s hitting coach Chili Davis has tried to get him to stop thinking “long ball” at the plate, especially with runners on base. After Reddick’s homer Monday, he and Davis had a light-hearted exchange in the dugout. “He was testing me,” Reddick said. “He said, ‘You know, you got a homer. Let’s work on getting the cycle.’ I said to him, ‘I’m just worried about hitting something hard.’ He gave me a little mini-hug and walked away. I knew what he was doing.”
After Sunday’s day off, it seems Reddick also came back refreshed mentally. He left Tampa after Saturday’s game and joined his family for the 5 1/2-hour drive back home to Guyton, Georgia. Then he caught a flight to Cleveland early Monday morning. “We got in about 11 p.m. (Saturday) night,” Reddick said. “I hung with some buddies. Then Sunday was my niece’s first birthday.”
After getting traded from Boston over the winter, playing for a team all the way across the country has probably been an adjustment. I wouldn’t be surprised if Reddick been a little homesick as the season has worn on. At any rate, things seem to be turning around for him. And that’s good news for the A’s. Yoenis Cespedes and Seth Smith have produced in the 3-4 spots for the past two games, and when Melvin can pencil his leading home run hitter into the sixth spot in the lineup, the A’s offense suddenly seems a little more threatening to an opposing pitcher …