CINCINNATI — Bryan Price, of course, takes the high highway when talking about his currently moribund Cincinnati Reds offense. What else can do? You play with what you have and pray a lot.
After the Chicago Cubs took two straight from his team, a team that was 0 for 20 with runners in scoring position, Price was asked if the last place Milwaukee Brewers are a sight for weepy eyes, a three-game series that began Monday night.
The Reds whipped up on Milwaukee last week, taking three of four and winning the first three with an offensive extravaganza that included a 16-10 win.
“It isn’t necessarily just because it is Milwaukee, it is just time,” said Price. “We have a lot of accomplished guys in our lineup and eventually we are going to start doing something. Inevitably we are going to start doing some things offensively that we are capable of doing. It wouldn’t hurt to start tonight.”
STATING THE OBVIOUS, because he was asked, Price said, “We have to start producing with runners in scoring position, especially with two outs. Which we will do. It is just a matter of time before we pick it up and do what we are capable of doing.”
PRICE MADE A lineup adjustment Monday, moving shortstop Zack Cozart up from eighth to second. He dropped Joey Votto from second to third, moved Todd Frazier into fourth. Brandon Phillips was moved from cleanup to sixth and Marlon Byrd was switched from sixth to seventh.
“We didn’t anticipate not having Devin Mesoraco in the middle of our order after the first homestand,” said Price. “If I had known that during spring training there would have been a lot more experimentation. I’m just trying to find a mix that will allow us to do what I know we can do offensively. We haven’t been prolific yet but we do have prolific players that are capable of carrying a consistent offense.”
And here are some non-prolfics on which to ponder and pontificate:
—The Reds have not had a batter hitting in the cleanup spot hit a home run in their first 18 games.
—Zack Cozart, the No. 8 hitter, has eight extra base hits, which is more than Jay Bruce (4), Marlon Byrd (3) and Brandon Phillips (0) combined.
—Jay Bruce has struck out 25 times in his first 62 at bats and is hitting .161. But his average isn’t the worst. Devin Mesoraco is hitting .091 and Marlon Byrd is hitting .143. And despite a seven-game hitting streak, Billy Hamilton is hitting .231.
—Much is made of Cincinnati’s defense, so how good it is? Is it this year? Right now the Reds are only the 18th best defensive team in the majors with 18 errors (an average of one game) and the fielding percentage (.981) is 18th in the majors.
—Aroldis Chapman, known for throwing fast balls that arrive at home plate scorched black, threw 68 change-ups last year. Only one was put into play and that was a pop-up. Of course, his change-up arrives at home plate at 88 miles an hour, 12 to14 miles an hour below his 100-102-102 miles an
WITH THE INJURY to St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright, who tore a tendon running out of the batter’s box, an immediate outcry began in some quarters to insert the designated hitter into the National League.
Reds pitcher Jason Marquis, who started Monday’s game, is close friends with Wainwright and they pitched together. He sent Wainwright a text of condolences.
But the DH? No way.
“That’s baseball,” said Marquis. “Injuries happen. Why overreact? A doctor once told me you can pop a tendon getting out of bed. If a pitcher pops a tendon shagging fly balls during batting practice, are we going to outlaw shagging by the pitchers? I’m all for that. It could happen to a pitcher running to first base on a coverage play. Are we going to outlaw pitchers covering first base?”
Price is of the same opinion about the DH, but for different reasons.
First of all, about the Cardinals losing their No. 1 pitcher, Price said, “That’s a lot of innings lost, a lot of quality pitching, a lot of leadership. But they lost Wainwright in 2011 and won the World Series.”
And installing the DH in the NL?
“What will open the DH debate even more strongly is whatever type of offense or lack thereof permeates the National League,” said Price. “The offense has been trending downward the last few years and the DH was installed back in 1973 by the American League to create more scoring.
“But I don’t think any injury to a pitcher or a high-profile player is any reason for pitchers not to hit any more in the National League,” he added. “I like the difference in leagues, the different styles in play. It is getting too homogenized if we do everything the same way in both leagues.”