OAKLAND -- There was no hint, no warning of the move, but Oakland's Josh Reddick didn't necessarily mind seeing his name behind the team's table setters in the lineup for Friday's home opener.
"It's better than the fourth spot," Reddick said, smiling, when asked about hitting third.
It's the No. 4 slot that brings out the real pressure, the outfielder said. In his mind, hitting fourth means hitting home runs -- a job he admittedly hasn't exactly mastered on a consistent basis. Instead, he ends up swinging too much and too quick, and the resulting mindset of trying to do more than he's capable of overtakes his at-bats.
Anywhere else, though, he's himself. The left-handed hitter didn't bat higher than fifth while with the Red Sox last year. But manager Bob Melvin said on Friday that Reddick's consistency earned him the chance to see an at-bat sooner.
With Reddick batting third in front of Jemile Weeks and Coco Crisp, Melvin was forced to place Cliff Pennington all the way down in the ninth spot, even though the shortstop exited the spring campaign batting .385 with a team-leading .467 on-base percentage. Still, that allowed the manager to keep his three best runners together in the lineup.
"We're going to work the lineup around a little bit and try to find what we feel is the best combination," Melvin said. "We've been doing that all spring. Penny's been hitting, for the most part, second. I want to see what Reddick can do in the third spot. He's shown he can hit left-handers, as well, so we're playing a little bit more to him today."
"If he's going to play the hot bat or stick with one lineup, it makes sense to plug someone into that spot who's hot at the time," said Reddick, who hit .304 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 15 games this spring. "Maybe if I cool off, he'll try his hand with someone else up there."
The A's are hoping that won't be necessary, particularly when a lefty is on the mound. Reddick has strangely hit much better against southpaws (.302) than right-handers (.240) in his career. This marks his fourth Major League season, but it's his first on an Opening Day roster.
"This definitely feels a little different," Reddick said of his Oakland debut. "In Japan, I was trying to find different ways to calm down because I was really amped up because it was my first big league game on Day 1 of the year. Today, I'm a little more relaxed."