Josh Reddick’s bat heats up at opportune time for the Dodgers
As poorly as Josh Reddick hit in August, the right fielder, acquired in an Aug. 1 trade from Oakland, was unable to drag the Dodgers down with him.
While the left-handed-hitting Reddick batted .161 with a paltry .396 on-base-plus-slugging percentage and drove in one run in his first 25 games, the Dodgers went 15-13 and turned a two-game deficit in the National League West into a 1 1/2-game lead by the start of September.
“I wanted to succeed so bad, I started pressing in the middle of August, and that really took a toll,” Reddick said. “But I wasn’t gonna be the new guy who came here and worried about his personal success when the team was winning. Taking over the division lead and never losing it … that made it a lot easier to cope with.”
A rough month ended with a two-hit game against Colorado that seemed to catapult Reddick toward a September in which he hit .400 (26 for 65) with a 1.004 OPS, two home runs and eight runs batted in during 20 games entering Thursday.
Reddick has teamed with Yasiel Puig to form a potent right-field platoon, his production in the sixth spot adding considerable depth to the lineup. Not coincidentally, the Dodgers won 16 of their first 21 games in September and clinched their fourth straight division title on Sunday.
“It’s been a huge game-changer for us,” Manager Dave Roberts said. “There are certain guys in the lineup who make you go, but when Josh was really scuffling, punching out way more than he’s used to, not making a lot of hard contact, there was a little void.
“Right now, he’s got his legs under him, he’s taking good swings and barreling a lot of baseballs up. To add that length and to have Joc [Pederson] behind him, it’s a dangerous lineup. He’s always been a righty killer, and we’re gonna see our fair share of right-handers [in the playoffs].”
Reddick, who attributed his September surge to “a lot more luck combined with good at-bats, good swings and not trying to do too much,” hopes he’s warming at the right time. The Dodgers open the playoffs against Washington on Oct. 7.
“ I don’t want to look too far ahead,” Reddick said, “but if I can keep swinging the bat this way once October rolls around, it will be a fun thing to be a part of and a fun thing to watch, because when this lineup gets hot, it’s gonna be scary.”
The Giants are battling for a wild-card spot, and they can’t afford to have their ace ejected for retaliating against Puig in such an important game.
“I don’t think it will be an issue,” Roberts said. “Tempers flared in the heat of the moment, but I think it’s resolved.”
The day after the incident, Puig had T-shirts made with the inscription “DON’TLOOKATME” across the front, a reference to what Bumgarner yelled at Puig after Puig’s seventh-inning grounder to the mound. Puig signed one of the shirts and had a clubhouse attendant deliver it to Bumgarner.
“A lot of the things he does are just playful — he doesn’t take things too seriously,” Roberts said of Puig, “so I think it was a good message to extend an olive branch [to Bumgarner]. Good for him.”
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