McAdam: Reddick earning his keep in right field

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McAdam: Reddick earning his keep in right field

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
It's not Terry Francona's nature to make dramatic announcements about changes to his starting lineup.

When Jed Lowrie unseated Marco Scutaro as the team's starting shortstop earlier this season, there was nothing said, nothing official. But day after day, Lowrie's name was on the lineup card and Scutaro's wasn't.

The same thing may be happening in right field.

On Wednesday in Baltimore, on the final day of the road trip, the Orioles had righthander Jake Arrieta on the mound. Ordinarily, that would mean the lefthand-hitting J.D. Drew in right field. Instead, however, Francona went with Josh Reddick.

Reddick, it should be noted, responded with a two-hit game.

If the Red Sox are going to find out about Reddick, now is the time. Should the outfielder continue to hit the way he has the last several weeks, it might preclude the Sox from obtaining an outfielder by the trade deadline.

As such, it won't be much of a surprise if Reddick continues to get the lion's share of playing time in right for the next week while the Sox return to Fenway.

The feeling in the organization is that Reddick would get "exposed'' playing every day, that his proclivity for swinging at pitches out of the strike would become more obvious with additional playing time.

But it's hard to argue with the results: Reddick sports a line of .367.418.617 this season. Moreover, he's been far from overmatched against lefties, hitting .533 in an admittedly small sample (8-for-15).

Disappointing as he's been at the plate, Drew retains some value as a above-average defender in right. That's one reason why he won't be released altogether.

In a not-entirely-unrelated matter, the Red Sox' interest in New York Mets' outfielder Carlos Beltran has been overstated in some quarters.

Yes, the Sox believe Beltran could help them, giving them yet one more middle-of-the-order bat for their lineup. And remember, the Red Sox were interested enough last off-season (before signing Carl Crawford) to at least have trade discussions with the Mets about taking Beltran -- with the help of significant salary relief.

But the price(s) must be right for talks to get serious. To date, that hasn't happened and mutiple Sox sources don't think it will.

Taking on the remaining 6 million or so left on Beltran's deal is out of the question for the Sox, who are already on the precipice of the luxury tax as it is, thanks to their off-season acquisiton of Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez.

The Mets have recently signaled a willingness to take back the entire 6 million to facilitate a deal, but that concession comes with expectations. The more money the Mets eat on Beltran's salary, the better return they expect in a deal.

And that presents another problem for the Red Sox, who already packaged three top prospects for Gonzalez. To give up two more good prospects to land Beltran would really strip the club's inventory of young players and thin out their system.

At this point, the Red Sox lead the majors in virtually every significant offensive category, despite getting poor production out of right field. They lead both leagues in runs scored, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, extra-base hits and more. So getting Beltran is a luxury more than a need.

It's far more likely that the Red Sox will get a role-playing, right-handed outfielder who can provide some punch against lefties.

Such an acquisition would have a smaller impact on the payroll and enable to the club to channel its limited remaining budget toward getting some bullpen depth, which is likely to be a more pressing need in the long run.

The same team which seemingly couldn't win on the road in the first month of the season (0-7) now can't lose. Since then, the Red Sox are a white-hot 31-13 and after going 4-2 in Tampa Bay and Baltimore, the Sox have pieced together six consecutive winning trips.

To find the last losing trip, in fact, it's necessary to go back to first trip of the season.

Now, however, the Red Sox must show some dominance at home. Beginning Friday, they will play 14 of their next 17 games at Fenway. And it's not just where they're plying as much as who they're playing. The next 10 games (three with Seattle; four with Kansas City; and three at Chicago) are all against teams with losing records.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

McAdam: Red Sox at a loss after excruciating defeat

McAdam: Red Sox at a loss after excruciating defeat

There are still two full months of games left on the schedule and who knows what might happen in that time, or what else might befall the Red Sox.

But for now, it's no stretch to suggest that Thursday's excruciating 2-1 setback in Anaheim constitutes the worst loss of the season to date. The point hardly seems debatable.

Consider:

THE TIMING: This was the start of the longest, and in many ways, most challenging road trip of the season, with 11 games in 11 days. It comes immediately after a homestand that was highly disappointing, featuring a mere split with the last-place Minnesota Twins and a sweep at the hands of the otherwise mediocre Detroit Tigers.

There's been a great deal of attention focused on how many road games the Sox have to play through the rest of the season. Winning the opener -- and snapping a three-game losing streak in the process - would have felt like a strong statement that the club was ready and able to meet the challenges of the schedule.

THE STARTING PITCHER: The loss wiped out a standout performance by David Price, who may well hold the key to whether the Red Sox grab a playoff spot this fall.

Price has been woefully inconsistent in his first season with the Red Sox, alternating between brief stretches of dominance and periods of underwhelming outings.

For a change Thursday night, Price seemed on the verge of winning one of those "statement'' games, when he would make one measly run in the third inning stand up. There have been too many times, given his standing as the team's No. 1 starter, in which Price has pitched just well enough to lose -- like the pitcher's duels in which he came up short against the likes of Madison Bumgarner and Chris Tillman.

But on Thursday, Price didn't buckle. And never mind that he was matched against an aging and depleted Jered Weaver. Price had next-to-nothing with which to work, but he protected the 1-0 lead with a determination he has seldon shown in Boston.

And for his effort to go wasted sets an inauspicious marker for this demanding trip. There was something symbolic about having Price set the tone at the start with a low-scoring, must-have game.

He did his part. Unfortunately for Price, that wasn't enough.

THE WAY IN WHICH IT HAPPENED: Walk-off losses are never pleasant, whether they come on a homer, or a base hit up the middle.

But considering that the Red Sox had the ability to turn Daniel Nava's tapper to first into a game-ending double play, and instead, saw it result in a two-run throwing error on the part of Hanley Ramirez, makes it all the more crushing.

Brad Ziegler, who gave up a go-ahead game-winning homer in the final game of the homestand Wednesday, essentially did his job in the ninth. He got Mike Trout to hit a chopper, which resulted in an infield single. And he kept the ball on the ground and in the infield, with the Sox bringing the infield in with the bases loaded and one out.

Better execution, and the Red Sox walk away with a thrilling 1-0 victory to begin their West Coast trek. Instead, they walk off the field, heads down, with the wrong precedent being set.