CINCINNATI — An elderly couple was enjoying dinner in the bar area of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse near Great American Ball Park Monday night, talking baseball and sports with server Julie Cook.
They were trying to come up with the name of the Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder who finished second to Todd Frazier in last year’s Home Run Derby. They couldn’t come up with it.
A young man seated nearby piped up with, “Joc Pederson.” That was the name. The couple and the young man struck up a conversation for a long time.
The couple paid for their meals and left. After they’d gone, the young man said, “I should have paid for their meals.” And Julie said, “You can if you want. I haven’t rung it up yet.”
So the young man paid for their meals and left a note with Julie to give to the couple the next time they came in because Julie told him the couple comes in often.
And the note was signed, “Tony Renda.”
RENDA HAS SPENT MOST OF THIS season in Class AAA Louisville and was called up Monday and hadn’t even been to the ballpark yet.
Asked Wednesday about it, Renda shrugged and said, “A very nice couple. I just like good people.”
Obviously, good people attact good people.
WHEN MANAGER BRYAN PRICE was told the story he was not surprised.
“That doesn’t surprise me, as soon as you started the story,” said Price. “When you started the story and if it was going to be a character story, it’s Tony Renda. That’s neat. That’s very nice to hear.”
Somebody mentioned that, like Price, Renda attended Cal-Berkeley, and Price said with a smile, “That goes without saying. Renda, Price and Gregory Peck. The list goes on and on.”
Of Renda, a 25-year-old 5-foot-8 infielder, Price said, “This guy was a seconod-round pick by the Washington Nationals and their scouting department doesn’t miss too often. He was the Pac-12 Player of the Year (at Cal-Berkeley), which is not an easy thing to do because it is a great conference for baseball.
“For a guy so small in stature he hits the ball as hard as anybody,” said Price. “He doesn’t hit a lot of home runs, but hits the ball on the barrel often. He came to spring training wanting to be multi-positional because he felt, ‘That’s the way to get on the field — play more positions.’ Baseball is trending that way.”
RENDA IS OFTEN ASKED ABOUT being 5-foot-8 and how often he was told he wasn’t big enough to make it, but he tells everybody, “I may be 5-foo-8, but I play like I’m 6-foot-4.”
“He is pretty impressive, an impressive young guy, and I think he is a big-leaguer,” said Price. Renda came to the Reds from the New York Yankees, along with three other players (3B Eddie Jagielo, RHP Rookie Davis, RHP Caleb Cotham) for Aroldis Chapman.
HERNAN IRIBARREN tripled for the second time in three games since his September 1 call-up from Class AAA Louisville after he won the International League batting title at .327. But at 32 years old, is he a prospect?
Price admits his promotion was a reward for a job-well-done, but adds, “He looked like a real good organization guy who might be ready to transition into coaching, but he is getting an opportunity in the big leagues to perhaps put himself in the mix as a credible major-leaguer going into next season. This isn’t a favor to the guy. It is acknowledgement for a job well-done and we’ll see what happens in September and how it leads into next year.”
WHEN THE SEASON BEGAN Scott Schebler and Adam Duvall were in a tussle for the left field job. Duvall won easily and a struggling Schebler was shipped back to Class AAA Louisville.
But after Jay Bruce was traded to the New York Mets, Schebler was recalled and placed in right field and is doing a credible job.
“He has been very strong defensively and he unloads the ball quickly,” said Price. “That makes up for an average arm. He has been more accurate than he was earlier this year and is playing the position efficiently.
“And he doesn’t seem to be uncomfortable going into the wall or into the corner, either,” said Price. Schebler crashed into the wall Sunday to make a spectacular catch against Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.
OF SCHEBLER’S EARLY-SEASON failure, Price was asked if he thought Schebler was pressing.
“No doubt,” he said. “I talked to him about it earlier. He was coming from a new organization (the Dodgers) and he wants to impress and earn playing time. The biggest issue with these guys is they press so hard because they want to stay in the big leagues. They put so much pressure on themselves to either stay or when they get sent to Triple-A they stress to get back. It all comes down to going out there and putting yourself in the best position to play baseball. It’s the whole Yogi Berra saying — ‘Baseball is 90 per cent mental and the other half is physical.’”
BILLY HAMILTON WILL NOT accompany the team for its four-day, four-game trip to Pittsburgh Thursday through Sunday. He’ll remain in Cincinnati to permit the pain in his left oblique to subside.
“He has to first be able to do some baseball activity like throw and move around and I don’t know if he’ll be able to do that before we get back. There is tenderness to it and until he can pass all the tests they do for pain he won’t be doing much.”
Hamilton told writers the other day, “The worst pain I’ve ever had was when I sneezed since I strained the oblique.”