CINCINNATI — Scott Schebler took a path to success last season that he doesn’t care to follow again. But right now he is standing at the entrance to that path.
A season ago, Schebler began the season on the 25-man roster, but when he hit .175 the first five weeks of the season he was optioned to Class AAA Louisville.
Schebler became a big star in a small galaxy at Louisville, shining brightly on the AAA trail, an All-Star.
BUT HE REMAINED IN LOUISVILLE until the trade deadline and Jay Bruce was dealt to the New York Mets. Schebler was recalled, planted in right field, and hit .290 with eight homers and 32 RBI the last two months of the season.
And now it is 2016 and it is four weeks into the season and Schebler is hitting .164. There is no thought of sending Schebler back to Louisville again, even though Jesse Winker is primed and ready. In fact, manager Bryan Price gave him a vote of confidence this week by saying, “I have full confidence in Scott Schebler and I expect him to be an outstanding player in this league.”
To that, Schebler said, “That’s just awesome to hear. He obviously saw me go through it last year and that helps not only him, but me knowing I can come back from this.”
NEVERTHELESS, THE 26-YEAR-OLD native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, wants to shed his hitting miseries immediately.
“I just have to get it rolling and we’ll be good, that’s the way it works,” said Schebler before Saturday afternoon’s game against the Chicago Cubs. “I don’t want to go down last year’s route. I’d rather get it going earlier.”
Asked if he feels good at the plate, Schebler sighed and said, “I don’t feel bad. I don’t feel like I’m in a real struggle. I feel like I’m putting good swings on the ball. A lot of things aren’t going my way right now. That’s the way this game is. A couple of bloop hits and I’ll get going. It is just working through it and making sure I work hard to get through.”
SCHEBLER, normally the right fielder, was in center field, replacing a struggling Billy Hamilton. Price said it is merely a day of rest for Hamilton, but he shouldn’t be tired because he isn’t running the bases much. He is 1 for his last 12 and 3 for his last 27, dropping his average to .224 and his on-base average to .274.
“I told Billy yesterday that he would have today off,” said Price. “I hope by now our guys know I don’t send messages by giving days off. It is not a message. It is just a day off to give some of these other guys an opportunity to play.
“It is not at the point of time in the year where I am sending messages (about lack of production) through days off,” Price added. “I’d confront somebody and address them if I had concerns about their play as opposed to just taking them out of the lineup.”
RELIEF PITCHER DREW STOREN accomplished a rarity this week against the Baltimore Orioles — an immaculate inning of nine pitches, nine strikes, three strikeouts.
It has only been accomplished 81 times in major league history and Rob Dibble of the Nasty
Boys was the last Reds pitcher to do it.
“He had a lot better stuff than me (well, he threw harder),” said Storen with a laugh. “And Sandy Koufax did it three times, but that doesn’t count because he was superhuman.
“It’s funny, because during a game when I was with Washington we were talking about it in the bullpen and wondering how many guys had done it,” said Storen. “Then I went into the game and almost did it.
“So, then the other day after I got the first two, I stopped and thought, ‘Did I just strike two out on six pitches? I have a chance to do this.’ It would be kind of cool to do it because as a career relief pitcher that’s about as good as you can do.
“When I thought about it, it is a rarity to use the same ball an entire inning,” he added. “I used the same ball the entire inning and it didn’t touch the dirt or get fouled off. It was pretty neat. It is one of those things on a relief pitcher’s bucket list. You don’t go out and try to do it, but it is pretty special when it happens.”
AMAZINGLY, REDS RELIEF PITCHER Wandy Peralta nearly did it the next night — 10 pitches, nine strikes, three strikeouts. “That would have been awesome because I’d bet one team has never done it in back-to-back games,” said Storen. “Peralta has awesome stuff and is a great piece for this team.”
STOREN DID IT A different way Friday night against the Cubs in a 5-5 tie game. He started the seventh inning by hitting Jose Baez and giving up a single to pincnh-hitter Jon Jay – tie game, runners on third and first, no outs.
He struck out Albert Almora Jr., then retired ever-dangerous Kyle Schwarber on a fly to left and even-more-dangerous Kris Bryant on a foul pop to the catcher.
“Unfortunately, over my career, I have been in those kinds of situations many times,” said Storen. “I have experience in getting out of those kinds of things.
“I know right then I need a strikeout or a softly hits balls (he got all three) and I can’t give in and throw hittable fastballs,” he said. “I know exactly what the first two hitters are trying to do with a runner on third and no outs — break the tie any way they can.”
Storen made certain that didn’t happen
IF THERE IS ANY DOUBT about the attitude and work ethic of Chicago Cubs outfielder and Middletown native Kyle Schwarber, and there certainly isn’t any doubt, well consider Saturday morning.
The Reds and Cubs played 11 innings in chilly game-long rain Friday night and it was after midnight when Schwarber left Great American Ball Park.
But at 7 a.m. Saturday morning, Schwarber showed up in the visitor’s clubhouse and immediately sat down to watch game video. Lots of coffee presumably was involved.