CINCINNATI — This falls under the category of what Abraham Lincoln said when he was told that General Ullyses S. Grant was drinking too much: “Find out what brand he drinks and give it to the rest of the generals.”
Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price needs to find out exactly what is going on with shortstop Zack Cozart’s wrist and prescribe the injury for the rest of his players.
Since the second week of the season, when the Reds were in Pittsburgh, a mystery ailment has plagued Cozart’s left wrist. He doesn’t know how he did it, why it comes and goes, why some days it is pain-free and other days it hurts like somebody stabbing it with a fingernail file.
AND FOR THE MOST PART he plays on. Plays? He is performing at All-Star level, as if he really wants that donkey teammate Joey Votto promised him if he makes the All-Star team.
Cozart is hitting .351 with 12 doubles, four triples, four home runs, 26 runs scored and 19 RBI. And he is cleaning up everything at shortstop like Swiffer.
He wasn’t in Sunday’s lineup and he wasn’t happy about it. “We have a chance to win this series and I’d like to be out there helping my team try to do it,” he said.
WHEN ASKED IF HE WAS just giving Cozart a day off, manager Bryan Price said, “He has a little bit of an issue with that left wrist. We’re just trying to pay attention to it and he should be good to go tomorrow. We’re just trying to pay attention to the fact that it has been bothering him and we’re trying to address that.”
AND AS FAR AS COZART IS concerned, they are barking at the wrong address. As he stood in front of his locker before Sunday’s game, a leather brace on his right wrist, he insisted nothing is wrong at the moment.
When asked what was going on with his wrist he said, “Nothing. Nothing is going on. I don’t really know. There is nothing really to say about it. I don’t know what to say. Sometimes it feels terrible and sometimes it feels good.
“We’re just taking it day-by-day,” he said. “It is mainly when I sleep. I try different positions so I don’t have it stuck in one spot for a while.”
HE POINTED TO THE BRACE and said, “This is just precautionary, so I don’t use my wrist in bad ways when I’m not playing. There is nothing crazy going on. It is just like when you tweak something in your wrist. Because I swing every day it is going to be there for a while.
“I’ve had some days off, but obviously I’ve been playing with it for about a month-and-a-half, ever since we were in Pittsburgh early in the year,” he said.
Ask how he did it and he shrugs his shoulders and says, “No, honestly I don’t know why I go a week or two feeling great and then it just pops up again. I don’t know what causes it, whether it was a swing or a dive. I don’t know. It is nothing major.
“It just flares up. We’ve had all the tests and it is nothing that important. The best thing would be rest, but in baseball there is not time off,” he added. “That’s not going to happen. I’m just going to play through it.”
If it is bothering him now, squeaking at him, it isn’t affecting his play. He is on a five-game hitting streak (three multi-hit games) — 9 for 21 (.429) with two homers, a double and five RBI. He has hits in 30 of the 36 games he has played this season and opened the season with a 10-game hitting streak.
“This is just a scheduled day off, a day game, take it easy, and come back tomorrow,” said Cozart.
WHILE HE IS HITTING .351, Cozart is not one of The Power Boys. The Reds are the only team in baseball with four players who own more than nine home runs. Joey Votto and Scott Schebler each have 11 while Eugenio Suarez and Adam Duvall each have nine.
“I don’t know if it is league-wide, but I know the talk is about guys trying to lift the ball,” said Price. “I don’t know how many guys on our team, if any, have changed swings to try to lift the ball. It is the popular discussion, the trajectory of the baseball, and so forth.
“The power is great,” Price added. “It is not just the homers, but the extra bases, too. It has been tremendous. As we came out of spring training we talked about our ability to score runs. The batting order, top to bottom, is strong.”
IN THEIR LAST FIVE GAMES, the Reds scored 33 runs — 6 1/2 runs per game — but only won one of those five games. Why? They gave up 45 runs.
“Our success offensively is reflective of a group of guys who can do a lot of things throughout the batting order,” said Price. “At one point, when we won nine of 11, it seemed like one through eight we were very good. It cooled off a little in San Francisco (three straight losses, six runs in 35 innings).
“But we’ve picked it back up since. It’s a nice lineup and I’m not surprised by the power. It is why we had so much optimism coming out of spring training with our ability to score runs,” he said.
Now, the pitching? That’s another story and pretty much a sad song.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Have you learned how to spell and pronounce Wojciechowski yet? I have. It is pronouned how’s your house key?” — Assistant pitching coach Ted Power.