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Interview: Josh Reddick

February 4, 2012

At the Oakland A’s FanFest I was invited to join five other bloggers in a press conference style interview of five members of the Oakland A’s organization. They were manager Bob Melvin, starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy, shortstop Cliff Pennington and outfielders Josh Reddick and Seth Smith. While all six of us asked questions, I am going to just focus on the questions I asked on this blog. I suggest readers go to Athletics Nation where the interviews in their entirety are going to be posted. Thank you to the Oakland Athletics organization for this opportunity!

First of all, apologies for the terrible photograph. I did one of each set of A’s and didn’t notice that I caught Reddick with his eyes closed. But this is the best that I got! Reddick came to the A’s along with prospects Raul Alcantara and Miles Head in the deal that sent Andrew Bailey to Boston. Reddick looks as if he will be the starting right fielder for the 2012 Athletics after played nearly one season’s worth of baseball spread across three seasons with the Red Sox. During that time, Reddick had a .248/.290/.416 slash line, while playing plus defense making him a 1.8 WAR player despite some middling offensive numbers (.304 wOBA and an 82 wRC+). Reddick turns 25 in a little over two weeks from today so there is still plenty of time to grow and become a more polished Major League bat. Here is the first question I asked Josh Reddick,

Q: Last year in Boston there were after the season, a lot of reports about the negative [clubhouse] chemistry with the “chicken and beer” articles. Often at least from our standpoint as fans, we see teams that teams that win the World Series always have good chemistry and teams that struggle or fall out of contention late always something was wrong and there were clubhouse problems. Do you think clubhouse chemistry is sort of a “chicken-egg” thing with, you win, there was good clubhouse chemistry and if you lose there isn’t?

A: Not necessarily. Even, in our September fallout we were the same clubhouse we were in June and July when we were the best team in baseball. I mean, nothing changed. I think the “chicken and beer” and Tito (Red Sox manager Terry Francona) situation that happened after the year, I think its just, honestly I think someone opened their mouth inside the clubhouse. That’s the only way it could really happen, and they needed something to point their finger at to get somebody off their back, and I think Tito was the guy unfortunately that had to be the person with the finger pointed at him. But the clubhouse was great, we’d go in there day to day, “forget yesterday, let’s go get ‘em tonight.” Same mindset you should have any day. Nobody had the depressed look like you expected or what you read about. We kept it pretty much the same and it just never really worked out.

What doesn’t come off in this transcript is the sort of pointedness that came with the comment regarding someone opening their mouth in the clubhouse. I’ve long suspected that sort of thing could be a cardinal sin of baseball and it seemed that unless there was a majority opinion it was not something to have done and it seems like it may have been a minority opinion or at least one that Reddick didn’t share. It was interesting however that he had that take which was similar but somewhat different to the way Smith answered the question after him in the sense that Smith was specifically referencing a team that excelled (the 2007 Rockies) whereas Reddick spoke of a team that truly floundered at the end (the 2011 Red Sox). The next question I had for both Reddick and Smith was about their recent arrival to Oakland.

Q: Given that you guys were just recently traded to the A’s is today the first day that you met a lot of your teammates?

A: This is the first I’ve seen him (Smith) around. I’ve actually been in Phoenix for a couple of days so I’ve gotten to know a few guys. I’ve gotten to experience the “Dallas Braden effect” but he’s a great guy. I’ve met Brett Anderson. Just working out, we’ve got a couple of guys already down here rehabbing and just getting ready to start the season. Fortunately, with the coaching staff I already knew Curt Young and Chili [Davis]. Chili was with us at Triple-A and Curt Young was obviously our pitching coach in Boston, but the majority I’ve met everybody here today and this past weekend.

It must be a strange position to be in when you’re traded in the offseason. Reddick seems like a good guy, both he and Smith were less forthcoming than the others in their interviews and I imagine part of that is coming to a new place not trying to rock the boat. Perhaps he is cognizant of his initial quote to A’s fans that seemed less than thrilled of the prospect of playing in Oakland when he told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle

“Playing in Boston was a pleasure. Fenway has so much history, the fans are so supportive and they get into the game. It’s tough to leave something like that, especially when it’s your first team. But whoever you’re with at the time, you’ve got to focus.”

Can’t blame the guy, being traded from a perennial championship contender to a team rebuilding can’t be fun. That concludes the FanFest interviews I did. It is my hope that as Spring Training and the regular season proceed I’ll have the opportunity to interview more players and/or management and get their take on what is going on with the Oakland A’s!

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