The Hits Keep Coming, But The Beard May Have To Go

This spring, Josh Reddick has put his baseball bats to good use, as he leads the Red Sox in hits, doubles, and total bases.


His razor, on the other hand, hasn’t seen any action.


With Boston’s opener looming on Sunday night at Fenway, Reddick is sporting a shaggy beard that Johnny Damon – Circa 2004 – would have endorsed.


Since the Red Sox have a strict “no beards” rule for their minor league players, Josh knows he’ll have to shave it off if he doesn’t make Boston’s Opening Day roster.


“That’s why I haven’t shaved all spring,” Reddick told me on Monday in Ft. Myers.  “I’m going to let it grow for as long as I can until I actually have to get rid of it.”


It’s not the first time that Reddick has “pushed the envelope” when it comes to his grooming habits.


Last year at Double-A Portland, Reddick didn’t break the facial hair rules, but he did have a Mohawk . . .


Reddick with mohawk re.jpg 

(photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)


. . . and also sported a mustache that was more suited to a certain genre of film than professional baseball.


Reddick with pornstache re.jpg 

Last July 31st when Josh was promoted directly from Double-A to the big leagues, Portland manager Arnie Beyeler told him that his head and upper lip had to be clean-shaven by the time he got to Fenway.


This is how Josh looked when he arrived in Boston.


Reddick at Fenway re.jpg 

Despite his torrid spring this year, the 23-year-old outfielder expects to begin 2010 in Triple-A.


“My mindset right now is going to Pawtucket,” Reddick said.  “I don’t want to get my hopes up too high, so that’s what I’m going to stick with right now.  If I make the big club that would be great, but if not, I’m going to be happy playing wherever.”


If Josh is correct and doesn’t open the season in Boston, he’s put himself in a position to be one of the first player’s called-up when the Red Sox need an outfielder or a left-handed hitter.  He’s not only posted big numbers (.383/.408/.638), but he’s shown improved plate discipline this spring. 


“I’ve worked a lot on taking more pitches like they’ve wanted me to do, even though I only have two walks,” Reddick said.  “I feel like I’m swinging at fastballs a lot better – I’m waiting for the ball to be in the strike zone and I’m laying off the off-speed stuff early in the court.  That’s been a key improvement for me.  Even though the walk numbers haven’t been there, I’ve worked the count until I’ve gotten fastballs.  I’ll never go up there looking for a walk and they say they don’t want to take my aggressiveness away, so it’s a fine line.”


I asked Josh if the Red Sox have shown him data and/or video that illustrates the importance of getting into hitter-friendly counts.


“We don’t sit down and study numbers – I’m not the kind of guy that likes to look too far into things.  I just want to know what a pitcher throws and how he works on me – we’ve got a great resource for what pitchers do in certain situations.  I try not to look too far beyond that because I don’t want to be thinking too much at the plate.  Hitting is already hard enough – why make it any harder than it is.”


So far this spring, he’s made it look easy. 


* * * * *


Josh Reddick is not the only member of the 2009 PawSox having a tremendous spring.


Jeff Bailey is batting .444/.516/.704 in 19 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks with a pair of home runs.


According to a recent story in the Arizona Republic, Bailey is battling Rusty Ryal, Tony Abreu and Cole Gillespie for the final bench spot on the Diamondbacks roster.

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