Answer Man: Josh Reddick talks long hair, his aching tooth, Spider-Man, making A’s walkoff pies and ‘Sweet Caroline’ with the Red Sox

David Brown
Big League Stew

Josh Reddick is having a breakout season for the Oakland Athletics. He's among the league leaders in home runs and assists, and he's been making a series of Spider-Man-like catches in the outfield. And all of it translates to a surprising season of playoff contention for the A's, who have become something of walkoff kings when it comes to winning in their last at-bat.

Not everything is rosy for Reddick, who's been dealing with a decayed tooth and a speedy metabolism that makes it hard to maintain his weight. But his slight physique also gives people a chance to underestimate Reddick, and that's what drives him, as he said in a recent Answer Man session in Kansas City.

David Brown: How long has it been since you had a haircut?

Josh Reddick: Two-and-a-half years.

DB: How sick is your flow going to get before it gets too sick?

JR: [Laughs]. Uh ... I think, right now, it's at the extreme to where it's time for a trim-up. Actually, I looked into it last homestand, and once I found out the prices of a trim-up for a male, I had to turn away from it.

DB: So it's a financial decision. The cost is keeping you away from the stylist chair?

JR: Yeah. I mean, right now, it's like 40 bucks for a trim-up back in the California area. So maybe I need to go back home [in Georgia] and see my grandmother. My grandmother does hair, so maybe I can get her to do it cheaper.

DB: I heard you just went home to Georgia on the A's off day to take care of an ailing tooth?

JR: I did, that's true.

DB: And you used your own dentist? Just something comfortable about being at home? Do you have any fears or anxieties about going to the dentist?

JR: It's not really a fear, I just trust him because I know the job he's done in the past for me. So I know he's going to do it right and not beat around the bush to try to make me come back later just to try to make more money. I've known him for a while. Just somebody you share trust with.

DB: Is it kind of like finding the right auto mechanic, or heating and air man?

JR: Exactly.

DB: Was the pain getting in the way of playing?

JR: It was bad. On Saturday night in Chicago, I didn't sleep at all. The pain was even too much to close my eyes, so I just had to keep icing it the whole night. Luckily, we were a little closer to the East Coast and home when we got the day off so I had an opportunity to so it.

DB: Did you keep the tooth for good luck or to keep it out of the wrong hands in case someone wanted to perform a curse on you?

JR: No, that tooth is long gone. I've had so many problems with that thing in the last three years that I was ready to get rid of it. It had been a root canal for a while and it kept giving me problems. Had a cap on it and the cap came off. So it was best to just to take the thing out and go with a fake one in the offseason.

DB: You guys have inventive fans who come up with projects like "Bacon Tuesday" where they bring their own bacon recipes to share with each other in the bleachers. Do you have any mixed feelings about players from other teams like Jeff Francoeur coming into your bleachers and taking bacon out of your mouth?

JR: Nah, I think it's funny. I've known Frenchy for a while from the Georgia area, so we can kind of relate to each other. We actually contacted each other about it. I thought it was great. And he can have Tuesday, because we've also come up with "Title Thursday" which relates to the whole wrestling thing I enjoy with title belts. I'll let him keep his bacon and I'll keep the titles.

DB: Having an infected tooth must have made it hard to enjoy bacon anyway, with all the chewing.

JR: It wasn't really too bad until the weekend when it really started to hurt. But I haven't been able to eat on that side of my mouth obviously, and it's not smart to eat on the side where I got my tooth pulled. I'm just ready for it to quit hurting so I can heal up and eat some solid foods again. I'm tired of eating this soft stuff [laughs].

DB: You tweeted a picture from the Aerosmith concert. But the pic kind of seemed far away. Next time, will your seats be better?

JR: Actually, we had good seats, maybe the third row a level up from the floor, from standing room. They were tickets we got through the club. But it was a really good time. They were my dad's favorite band growing up, and he was visiting Oakland for some ballgames when they happened to be coming through on tour. It was the first time we were able to see them in concert. He stayed for the whole thing, but I could only stay for five or six songs because I had to go let my dog out. We had left him for almost 12 hours and I didn't want to be left with a mess on the floor.

DB: What kind of dog do you have?

JR: An American Bulldog. He'll be 3 on Sept. 11. His name is Backster — with a C.K., not an "X."

DB: For Ron Burgundy and comedian Louis C.K.?

JR: Ha! I just wanted to be different than Baxter the dog in "Anchorman."

DB: You miss him now?

JR: I do.

DB: On your shoulder, is this a tattoo of a Georgia Bulldog, as in UGA?

JR: That's right.

DB: You didn't end up going there. Did you dream of playing for them?

JR: I had wanted to. I'm more of a college football fan of theirs more than anything. I wanted to play baseball there until the baseball coach told me I wasn't good enough. So that kind of crushed my dream of going there.

DB: Being told you're not good enough is kind of weird recurring theme. You were cut by your middle school team, you've said. That's an even bigger diss than the famous Michael Jordan freshman basketball story. And yet, here you are in a major league clubhouse.

JR: It's something I've lived with my whole life. Never surprised to hear it.

DB: Does it all start with being an average-sized guy? Skinny?

JR: Maybe they look at a skinny guy and don't see his potential. But that just goes back to the cliche "Don't judge a book by its cover." But when they do, it just gives me more reason to prove a whole lot of people wrong and make them eat their own words. I'm proud to have been able to do that my whole life.

DB: Is your video game arm as strong as your arm in real life?

JR: I've never played a video game with myself in it. I'm not much of a video game guy, at least from baseball. I've had a few tweets that say my attributes are a lot lower than I'm proving right now.

DB: As Spider-Man goes, are you more Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield?

JR: Haha. Boy, I dunno. That's a good question. I think the timing of Tobey Maguire was impressive. And I wouldn't mind being as big as he was in the first movie.

DB: What about a sportswriter's diet to put on weight? Donuts, hot dogs, nachos?

JR: It's funny because I've tried to do the whole protein shake thing, but no matter what I eat it gets burnt off with the metabolism I have. I'm just riding out the metabolism and training as much as I can. My dad told me his metabolism didn't run out until he was 30, so if that's the case for me I've got a while to go until I start gaining pounds.

DB: Do the A's distinguish themselves from other teams with postgame pies because of their use of real whipped cream instead of shaving cream?

JR: I remember in '09 when the Yankees were doing it a lot, they'd mix it up quite a bit. A.J. Burnett would put shaving cream in a towel, and sometimes he'd put whipped cream in it. Watching him, sometimes he'd whisper in their ear, "Hey, you can eat it, it's whipped cream." And sometimes he'd say, "It's shaving cream, don't eat it!" So I think it's whatever they have available in the locker room. More than most it's shaving cream. But for us, with whipped cream, it's something we've been running with.

DB: Interesting how close of attention you were paying to Burnett, the best some say, at the postgame pie.

JR: Granted, I was with Boston, but it was still a fun team to watch. They made the game fun, kind of the way we do now. And that team did a lot of walkoffs, kind of how we do it now. It's hard to miss the highlights.

DB: I hear the Georgia in your voice a little bit. But it's funny, when I talk to people from Georgia or Texas and they don't have as much twang as you'd expect. Talking to Josh Beckett, who is from Spring, Texas, is like talking to someone from Iowa or Utah. So has it been coached out of you by some damn Yankees or what?

JR: I think it's just staying away from home so much. Playing with the Red Sox organization in the Northeast a lot helps — luckily I haven't picked up that accent — but I think you're steered away from it when you play with guys from all over the country. But when I go home for the offseason it comes back out. And then, come spring training, it ends. It all depends on who you're around. If me and Brandon Moss spent two weeks together, just me and him, we'd both have ours back.

DB: Your name combines the best of Duke basketball greats J.J. Reddick and Josh McRoberts. Would that combination also describe your basketball skills?

JB: When I played, I was actually a center, so I'd have to go with the Josh McRoberts side. I was a rebounds and an in-the-paint guy. Wasn't much of a three-point shooter. Dad taught me not to fear anybody and go out there with the idea of, "When you get the rebounds, throw your elbows so the other guy doesn't get in the way." And I found, a lot of times when I'd drive to the hole, people will get out of your way. I wasn't afraid to foul anybody.

DB: The Red Sox made a movie trailer playing your name off the "Chronicles of Riddick" movie with Vin Diesel. Are you really a Furian warrior and is everyone trying to kill you?

JR: It's funny, but I didn't even know they were filming that at the time. I saw movie cameras all over the field for three days and I thought they were taping the whole team. So it was a surprise. I look back now and it's flattering, because I didn't see the same person in myself that I do now. I'm more vocal, and a leader-type in this clubhouse. Before, I was more of a sponge, trying to soak everything in. I used to just go about my business, so I thought it was pretty neat for them to go ahead and do that and promote me.

DB: What can you say about what's been going on with the Red Sox this season?

JR: The media's always been a big blow-up factor for those guys. You've got so many eyes with cameras and ears listening, it's ridiculous. Everything's going to get captured. So you've got to be careful what you say. And as for playing, it just seems like since the September fallout, they haven't really figured out what it takes to get back on track. And when they do, something derails them. But I'm not going to sit here and bash those guys. I have a lot of great friends on that team. But I don't really ask them about what's going on, it's more of catching up and seeing how they're doing.

DB: What's the best advice you ever got from one of your Red Sox teammates, maybe from someone like David Ortiz or Dustin Pedroia?

JR: Last year, I wasn't really hitting for a lot of power and Pedroia told me, "When you go into the offseason, don't focus on your upper body when you're lifting weights. Focus on your lower body." He said that he hadn't ever hit more than 15 home runs in my career and then came out and hit 20 this year and the regimen change worked for him. So I took that into perspective. And I've got 25 home runs already.

And in April, I was kind of struggling — I was hitting everything hard, but nothing was getting down — David actually took the time and called me, which was awesome, and talked to me for about 20 minutes. And the advice wasn't really anything big. He said to take half a step up in the box. And that ball you line to third is going to be down the line or into the gap. Sure enough, I went 3 for 5 that night with two doubles. For those guys to take the time out of their day — especially David, with the time change — it makes me feel good that I made that good of an impression on those guys.

DB: You're not in Boston anymore, so can you give your honest opinion of "Sweet Caroline"?

JR: Overrated. By far. I was saying that even before I left Boston [laughs]. You just hear it too many times in your career in that organization. All the way from low-A to the big leagues. I think we just get tired of it. Every eighth inning. But the fans love it.

DB: What would you rather hear?

JR: Nothing. Quiet. Haha.

DB: In Kansas City they play "Friends In Low Places."

JR: Well it's country so I like that. I bet they get tired of it here, though. But as long as the fans love it, they'll ride it out as long as they can.

Follow Dave on Twitter — @AnswerDave — and engage The Stew on Facebook.

* * *

Previous Answer Men (and Woman):

2012 • Andrew McCutchen • Aaron Boone

2011 Pete RoseStephen BishopOrel HershiserWill RhymesLogan MorrisonBilly BeaneLuke Scott

* * *

2010Goose GossageJayson WerthTroy TulowitzkiHeath BellBilly WilliamsJoe MauerNyjer Morgan Charlie ManuelFred LynnBucky DentGary CarterMatt StairsVin Scully

* * *

2009 Shane VictorinoCarlos PenaJay BruceJoe Nathan Joe MaddonJoakim SoriaJoey VottoTom GlavineAdrian and Edgar GonzalezChris VolstadPaul KonerkoEdwin JacksonMark DeRosaTim LincecumDave RighettiPedro MartinezDenard SpanCal Ripken

* * *

2008 • Hunter PenceJustin MorneauDavid WrightErin AndrewsAndy Van SlykeDerek JeterBob UeckerBert BlylevenTorii HunterJoba ChamberlainLarry BowaZack GreinkeKerry WoodHuston StreetJosh HamiltonMilton BradleyCC SabathiaMike MussinaJason BayCole HamelsRon SantoFrancisco RodriguezRyan DempsterEvan Longoria

What to Read Next