Slumping Reddick bumped to sixth spot

ST. PETERSBURG — The A’s weren’t even on the same continent the last time Josh Reddick started in the sixth spot.

But that’s where the Oakland outfielder hit for Saturday’s series finale against the Rays, as manager Bob Melvin looked to give the slumping Reddick “a little change in scenery.” His only other start there came March 28, in the A’s season opener against the Mariners in Tokyo, and he’s hit fifth and seventh once, with 113 of his starts coming in the No. 3 hole.

“I think any time a guy goes through some struggles you want to change it up a bit,” Melvin said. “We expect him to be back in the three-spot before long, whether it’s a couple of days or whatever. But this isn’t uncommon over the course of a 162-game season. I can’t remember a season where I’ve had someone hit in the same spot the whole year.”

Reddick supported his manager’s decision, acknowledging his struggles — he’s batting .149 over his last 23 games — while attempting to dissect them Saturday morning, as Yoenis Cespedes prepared to bat third, with designated hitter Seth Smith behind him in the fourth slot.

“This maybe takes a load off my back,” he said. “I think I’ve been putting too much pressure on myself in the three-hole, and this could be a good way to get pitched differently and get pitches I can drive a lot better and build some confidence.

“I think effort level is big for me. It’s been my Achilles heel in the past. Effort level kind of gets to a maximum for me and my swing gets long. I’ve been jamming myself a lot lately, so I have to focus on getting the effort level back down and not trying to hit the ball so hard.”

That explains his growing strikeout total, too. Reddick has compiled 32 of them since July 27.

“When the effort level gets too high the head starts flying and you can’t see, so I think that’s a big factor,” he explained. “I’m trying to hit the long ball too much, and you try to hit the long ball and obviously you’re going to strike out a lot.”

Any kind of out has Reddick steaming on most days. The 25-year-old wears his emotions on his sleeve, a characteristic that Melvin continually insists drives his player to better results. At the same time, Reddick understands his frustrations can amount to disappointing ones, too.

“That’s the one thing,” he said. “It can be my motivation as well as my downfall. I can get too involved in the game whenever things aren’t going good, and when they are it’s going to be a positive, but it can hurt me just as much as it can help me.”

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