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After the trade winds

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  August 3, 2009 05:56 PM

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Reddick can play a little: There aren't many things more enjoyable about baseball than watching a wide-eyed prospect come up and make an immediate difference.

Even better is when it's a prospect you didn't expect to see for another year or two.

And even better is when he's oblivious to the shaving-cream-pie-in-the-face tradition of hazing a rookie during an interview.

Yes, it's been an eventful first few days in the bigs for the likable 22-year-old outfielder, who just a few days ago was patrolling the outfield for the Sea Dogs while wearing a ridiculous mustache straight out of a 1975 Dennis Eckersley Starter Kit (made by Ronco).

But after two starts in the big leagues while filling in for the injured Jason Bay and the perpetually creaking J.D. Drew, the player rated as the second-best prospect in the organization by the smart folks at soxprospects.com is batting .364 with a pair of doubles and a home run, and virtually every one of his at-bats his been impressive.

You get the sense that the Red Sox called him up knowing this could be more than a cameo.

I've been trying to think of a player he reminds me of, and so far without much luck. The stance is similar to Grady Sizemore's, and the swing is reminiscent of Mike Greenwell's, but there has to be a more obvious comparison.

Help me out here, people. TATB has a new binky.

The Daniel Bard story is not getting enough play: In 2007, his first season in pro ball after the Sox plucked him in the first round out of North Carolina the previous June, Bard was a disaster of epic proportions.

In 75.1 innings between Single A clubs Lancaster and Greenville, he allowed 76 hits and 59 earned runs while walking 78 -- yes, seventy-eight -- and striking out 48.

That was barely two years ago.

In that brief span since, he's gone from a potential victim of Steve Blass disease to a trusted rookie flamethrower who seems poised to be the Mariano Rivera to Jonathan Papelbon's John Wetteland during the postseason.

(Think Papelbon ever peeks up at the radar gun readings during Bard's appearances, sees "101," and thinks, "Damn, the Sox aren't going to pay me, are they?")

It's been a remarkable turnaround, and both player and team deserve credit, Bard for his resilience and the Red Sox pitching coaches for having the wisdom to properly tweak his mechanics and arm slot properly while converting him to a reliever after the '07 season).

He has a 2.01 ERA, a Pedroesque 0.96 WHIP, a .182 batting average against, 39 strikeouts in 31.1 innings. Yep, sure am glad the Yankees didn't sign him in 2003.

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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