Despite progress, Reddick not expected for Opening Day

Outfielder scheduled to play in Minor League game Sunday

Despite progress, Reddick not expected for Opening Day

MESA, Ariz. -- A's outfielder Josh Reddick is not expected to be ready for Opening Day, though making steady progress in his rehab from a right oblique strain.

Reddick is tentatively scheduled to be back in a game Sunday, though on the Minor League side, and the belief is he'll need more time to accumulate enough at-bats ahead of his return.

"I think it's going to be tough. I think it'll be real tough," said manager Bob Melvin. "If everything goes well and he plays on Sunday, my schedule has him not starting with us.

"We hope it's sometime in the first homestand, but my guess is right now it won't be Opening Day."

"At this point," said Reddick, "we don't really have a choice. As much as I was hoping to be ready for Opening Day, and I think I could be, it does make sense to take a little more extra time to play it on the safe side. That way I'm getting things taken care of while they're doing their thing up there, because obviously I don't want to play in the Bay Bridge series and then have something happen and make it even worse."

The A's can at least backdate Reddick's likely disabled list stint 10 days ahead of the regular season, allowing him the opportunity to be back on the 25-man roster as early as April 11. Meantime, the ultra-versatile Ben Zobrist will assume right-field duties, with Eric Sogard playing second.

Another multi-position specialist, Tyler Ladendorf, appears to be the frontrunner for Reddick's roster spot. Speedy outfielder Billy Burns is also an option.

"I was kind of hurt when it happened, but at the same time, I understand why they're doing it," said Reddick. "It just stinks, those five games, because the biggest thing is Opening Night. It's a big night to be a part of, and I'm going to miss it, but the ultimate goal is being healthy."

Reddick, always playing with reckless abandon, is no stranger to injuries, having endured two separate DL spells in each of the last two seasons. Last year, it was a right knee injury that shortened his season; the year before, a sprained right wrist.

The 28-year-old, however, said Friday he feels "great." He'll engage in full baseball activity come Saturday, including batting practice. Once back on the field, expect him to go about his business as usual.

"That's going to be the tough part," he said. "I'm not going to be running for the ball and have two seconds to think about whether I should dive for it. I'm just going to react to it."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.