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Duvall just trying for middle of the road.

CINCINNATI — Because he is from Louisville, KY., they’ve hung they nickname, ‘The Louisville Slugger’ on Cincinnati Reds left fielder Adam Duvall.

So, does he actually use a Louisville Slugger bat? Of course he does — a model 243, 33 1/2 inches long and 31 1/2 ounces in weight.

And he used one of those bats Saturday night to crush a hanging slider into the second deck at Great American Ball Park, a three-run eighth-inning rip that provided the Reds with a 6-3 victory over the Washington Nationals.

DUVALL, 278, IS PROVING to be a Man of Steel and a Man of Strength since coming to the Reds at last year’s trade deadline from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for pitcher Mike Leake.

It was hoped that Duvall could play some third base and play some left field until the Reds could find prospects to fill those positions. And this season began as a platoon-type affair for Duvall, sharing left field with Scott Schebler. It wasn’t long before Duvall chased Schebler out of town, all the way from the majors to Class AAA Louisville.

And Duvall turned it up three notches in May and it is continuing into June. He is leading the team in home runs with 16 and his 35 RBI are two behind team leader Jay Bruce.

WHEN DUVALL ARRIVED FROM San Francisco, there were two knocks against him. One was that he struck out too much because his swing was too big. And the other was that he was a defensive liability wherever you tried to hide him.

Whomever slapped those two label on him couldn’t pass a polygraph test because they are lies, lies, lies.

Duvall admits he worked on his swing over there winter and made a minor adjustment and said, “I worked about driving the ball through the middle to try to stay on the ball a little longer. Nothing too major.”

Up the middle. Nothing he hits these days goes up the middle. They either go into the upper decks in left field or into the seats in right field or off the walls for doubles. Of his last 16 hits, 11 are for extra bases.

“Doing that (aiming up the middle) helps me stay on the slider a lot better,” he said. And it was a slider from Washington’s Shawn Kelly that Duvall punctured into the upper deck, ending Kelly’s streak of eight straight appearances without giving up a run. “He left it up and I was able to get the barrel to it.”

AND DEFENSIVELY? DUVALL” has covered left field flawlessly and has several times made diving catches near the foul line and chased down short pop flies and line drives in the gaps.
What about this defensive deficiency?

“For somebody to say I was bad, well, I mean I hadn’t played out there that much,” he said. “How do they know? Some people label you and they don’t know what they are talking about. Everybody wants to be the guy who says it first.”

Duvall, though, said a lot of diligent defensive work has paid off and made him even more valuable as part of the Reds rebuild.

“I put a lot of work and a lot of emphasis on my defense,” he said. “I’m happy to be seeing it paying off.” So are the Reds.

MANAGER BRYAN PRICE came up with a surprise revelation before Sunday’s game when he said that when pitcher Raisel Iglesias returns in a couple of weeks, he won’t be inserted back into the rotation. His destination is the bullpen and he is likely to spend the rest of the season there.

“We are looking at him as a reliever for a couple of different reasons,” said Price. “He can help stabilize the bullpen. But more importantly is we want to keep him as healthy as possible. We limited his innings and shut him down last year for care taking of his shoulder. The he re-injured his shoulder. Now we’ll lighten his workload and take a look early next year to see if starting is better or the bullpen is better for him and for us.”

Price said his role in the bullpen will be multi-faceted, “And first it will be just to get in games and get acclimated. It is something he did in international play (for Cuba) and something he has done extremely well. With his starter’s background he can give us multiple innings and it really opens the door for about anything once he is reacclimated — anywhere from the middle of the game to sharing some responsibilities late in the game and even at the very back end.”

AFTER AN EXCELLENT REHAB start for Class AAA Louisville Saturday night, the Reds finally might see pitcher Anthony DeSclafani on a major league mound — as early as Friday against Oakland.

DeSclafani needed only 30 pitches to get through three innings Saturday and Louisville called the Reds to see if they should let him go more than the planned five innings. The goal was 80 to 85 pitches. Not only did he go six innings (72 pitches), but to stretch it out he threw another dozen pitches in the bullpen after he pitched six innings.

DeSclafani is back in Cincinnati and will throw a side session in a couple of days and then it will be determined what is next, but Price said, “It is likely his next start will be with us. He’ll pitch with an extra day’s rest (five days instead of four), it is kind of our protocol, and basically his rehab start was like his last spring training start.’’

JUST WHEN IT IS TIME for DeSclafani to return, the rotation has suddenly performed admirably the last time through. So who goes?

“That’s a good thing,” said Price. “It is good to have hard decisions instead of easy ones. It is when you could pick anybody in the rotation to go and say it would be an upgrade, well, that is a hard place to be. It is better this way and somebody is going to get their feelings hurt, but that’s a good thing.”

Price knows it is the future that counts, what is done today is projected to next year and the year after.

“We’ve talked about all this rebuild stuff and all we’ve really done so far is deconstruct,” he said. “We’ve deconstructed our roster and have not rebuilt it. And DeSclafani is part of the rebuild, a building block, part of rebuilding our pitching staff. His return is a step in the right direction.”

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