CINCINNATI — There are two easy explanations, in the words of Zack Cozart, why he has hit four home runs already after hitting only four all last season and why he is hitting .328 after hitting .221 last season.
And they both might be true.
“My son, Cooper, is only seven months old and he weighs 27½ pounds,” said Cozart. “Quite a load. Holding him has built up my shoulder and maybe that’s why I’m hitting home runs.”
And the average?
“I talked to Barry Larkin during spring training,” said Cozart. “I was hitting on a back field and he was watching me and giving me tips. That helps a lot. I plan to have him sign a jersey while he is in town this weekend with the 1990 team.”
A simpler, more plausible explanation is that Cozart spent most of the winter watching video of himself, so much that his wife became aggravated because he was ignoring her. But she’s OK with it now because of the results.
“I looked for the problem, I found it and I fixed it,” said Cozart. “It was all about getting my swing loaded before the pitch arrives.”
MANAGER BRYAN PRICE, who stuck with Cozart through his offensive miseries last year, is extremely happy for his slick-fielding shortstop.
“He has taken a lot of heat for his lack of offensive productivity last year. And he brought that on himself when he didn’t perform to his or our expectations offensively. But he worked hard and didn’t let it affect his defense,” said Price.
“He is just such a great kid, great worker and a team player,” Price added “You love it when you have players committed to a team winning and they have success in all facets. And nobody is happier when we win a game than Zack is, even if he has two hits and a couple of homers or he goes 0 for 4.”
THE MYSTERY SURROUNDING catcher Devin Mesoraco’s hip injury is all about how he did it. He doesn’t know.
“It wasn’t any specific incident,” he said. “It just started hurting about 10 days ago.” Mesoracro continues to take treatment and is able to pinch-hit.
“It doesn’t bother me when I swing, that’s no probem,” he said. “But I haven’t tried to squat yet, that’s what bothers me. I’m getting close and I don’t think it will be too long before I can get back in there.
“It is frustrating in that I expected to catch a lot of games this year,” he said, realizing he already has missed more than a week’s worth of starts.”
WITH THE ABYSMAL work out of the bullpen, the Reds have to be looking for a quick fix and it might be just down I71 where Sam LeCure is working for the Class AAA Louisville Bats. In five bullpen appearances LeCure is 0-0 with a 3.68 ERA, giving up three runs and four hits in 7 1/3 innings with three walks and six strikeouts.
Knowing from afar how the Reds bullpen is a cesspool right now, LeCure recently tweeted, “My phone still works.”
Said Price, “He is doing a nice job of managing the games that he is getting into. Our primary focus with Sam was to get his fastball command back. In the second half of last season it was more challenging for him. To be the impact pitcher he has been for us he needs to get his fastball back in force.
“I have not lost any optimism in that he’ll be a part of this bullpen over the course of the season and we miss his influence in the bullpen,” he added.