BOSTON — When Josh Reddick made his first appearance in Portland, he was 20 and even skinnier than he is today. He slipped unnoticed onto the Sea Dogs’ playoff roster in 2007, replacing the injured Bubba Bell.

Why call him up from low Class A Greenville for only a few games?

“The organization is high on this kid,” explained one Red Sox official.

And they are still high on him, so much so that Reddick has taken over the right field job in Fenway Park, supplanting a slumping and injured J.D. Drew and saving the Red Sox from having to make a major trade for an outfielder.

Reddick, 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, is batting .345 with four home runs and 21 RBIs in 36 games.

“We get a big kick out of watching guys that come through our system have success,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “I think it is a little bit of a misrepresentation — I know we’re a big market and we’re fortunate enough to sign free agents — but we love when our guys come through the system. We’re really proud of that.”

For a while it looked like another player in the system (Ryan Kalish) and a big-money free agent (Carl Crawford) would mean an exit for Reddick out of the Red Sox organization.

“With us getting (Crawford) and them being so high on (Kalish) — the way he performed last year, they kind of fell in love with him,” Reddick said, “I didn’t really expect to come up here and have happen what happened.”

What happened — becoming a starter in the majors — has been the culmination of an up-and-down journey for Reddick.

In that 2007 postseason with Portland, Reddick did not play much (0 for 1 as a pinch hitter, picked off as a pinch runner).

He returned to Hadlock Field July 20, 2008, having been promoted from advanced Class A. He struggled (.214 in 34 games).

Reddick, an aggressive hitter, was trying to learn the patient approach taught by the Red Sox.

“It’s been a slow process for me, and frustrating,” Reddick said at the time. “It’s nothing I’ve been accustomed to my whole life.”

Then came 2009. Reddick hit .277 with 13 home runs in 63 games. He was summoned to the major leagues on July 31 and in his first two starts, Aug. 1-2, he had two hits in each game, including a home run.

He bounced back and forth that year from the majors to the minors. He cooled somewhat, batting .169 in 27 major league games.

In 2010, Reddick moved to and from Triple-A Pawtucket to Boston. But it was Kalish who became the soaring prospect, called to Boston on July 31 and playing 53 games.

Kalish became the heir apparent to Drew in right field. Reddick became a name brought up in trade rumors.

“I didn’t really want that (idea of being traded) getting into my head,” Reddick said. “I just wanted to come into spring training and show these guys that I can still do this every day.

“Even though they were so high on Kalish, I wanted to be someone who could come up here eventually and help.”

All the offseason attention went to Kalish. He was named the Red Sox Rookie of the Year for 2010.The Sea Dogs had him as a featured guest at their Hot Stove Dinner and then announced a Kalish bobblehead giveaway this season (Aug. 22).

Both Kalish and Reddick began the season in Pawtucket, but Kalish suffered a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder while making a diving catch April 21.

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