Josh Reddick watches his 24th home run of the season leave the yard against… (Ben Margot / Associated…)
OAKLAND — The Doors' "Love Me Two Times" is on the reel of classic rock playing inside the Oakland Athletics' clubhouse, and the face of the American League wild-card-contending team is in a small eating area.
Josh Reddick, 25, grabs a can of whipped cream and sprays some straight into his mouth, showing himself as the good-ol' Georgia boy his teammates enjoy and the player still trying to put on a little weight.
Not that it really matters.
The 185-pound Reddick has hammered 25 home runs for the A's, and his cannon arm in right field discourages many from trying to take an extra base when any ball is hit in his direction.
What is your level of surprise at where this team is in the standings now, given that the organization hasn't had a winning record since 2006?
"Not very surprised. We came to spring training and right away beat teams and pitchers we weren't supposed to, and we took that momentum into the season."
When did you know the team had staying power?
"In our first East Coast trip, we took two of three from Baltimore, Boston and Tampa Bay, then we came back home from there and swept the Dodgers. Now we've swept four from the Yankees. Just something we've continued to do is keep the fun in baseball. It's fun in here. Jonny Gomes is the most fascinating guy in the group, and Brandon Inge is a real character. You've got to have that stuff, and it's clicked."
What about your own contributions here since being a 17th-round pick in 2006?
"I've been a guy who flies beneath the radar and who's out to prove people wrong. I was cut from my middle-school team and really didn't play my first two years in high school. But my parents taught me, 'Prove them wrong, put your talent above all else.' "
The key to your home run power is … ?
"Strong wrists and backspin. I'm not the biggest guy in the league, at a solid 185, so I've got to get every bit of the ball when I hit it."
Your power is such on this frame that it seems like someone in baseball would suggest you bulk up? Have you gotten that?
"I've been told that for four years. I've done the protein shakes, lifted weights … I can't get bigger. There's something going on, my metabolism is too strong. I'd love to gain 15 pounds of muscle so I could mis-hit a ball like these power guys and still get it out. It might change as I get older. I just need to focus on what I can do now."
Your general manager, Billy Beane, has taken on a near-mythical quality since "Moneyball." Is there extra confidence knowing that he tapped you to acquire in the December deal with Boston for closer Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney?
"That was a big boost of confidence. He called me two minutes after the trade was made and wanted it clear that I'd be the everyday guy in right. Every day."
But you need to prove something?
"There's always more to prove, and I'll keep proving the Red Sox wrong. I'm getting the homers, but I can be a lot better hitter with guys in scoring position," with 60 runs batted in. "I think average-wise, I'm in a good area for a power hitter. I just need to be not so anxious at times when guys are on base."
Have you proved enough with your arm in right field to stop everyone from running on you now?
"Lately, guys have been testing it. Mark Texeira did when the Yankees were here. Carlos Pena did it. I saw him turn, and got him. If you're not ready for me yet, it's a good surprise. I love seeing guys trying to go. What I was taught still works: Throw it hard, man. Throw it hard."
Oakland's $55-million payroll is $100 million less than the Angels, and $140 million less than the Yankees. Can you guys advance to the postseason with this disparity?
"I think we can if we we've gotten this far. We can still pick it up from here and close this thing out. We're getting our pitchers, Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden, back. This goes to what I love about proving people wrong. We don't need to spend that money. We swept the Yankees and they were healthy.A-Rod, Texeira. Granderson. Jeter. They were all here. It felt amazing to beat those guys. I love that feeling."