CINCINNATI — Scott Schebler wears a red tee-shirt under his uniform on which is inscribed: “Win 2483.”
What does that mean?
Somebody figured out that the average major league batter who plays most of the game during a season sees 2,483 pitches and Schebler said, “That means win every pitch.”
That is sort of the approach the Cincinnati Reds right fielder has taken his entire life, out of necessity. Along the way, few people believed in him outside the Schebler family circle.
REMEMBER THE CARTOON CHARACTER Underdog? Schebler could alternate Win 2483 with an Underdog tee-shirt.
“I wasn’t a top prospect coming up and I knew my window was always limited,” he said. “I’ve always had a little chip on my shoulder and I haven’t lost that. It is a little burning inside me that keeps me going. I wasn’t a top draft pick so I always knew there were guys in the organization that were going to get more opportunities than me. It puts a little chip on your shoulder because you always want to prove people wrong.
“I didn’t even get any looks out of high school from any baseball schools,” he said. “I thought I was going to go with football. So I’ve been a little bit of an underdog all my career.”
IN ADDITION TO BASEBALL, Schebler played football, basketball, soccer and ran track in high school, setting school records in the 50-meter sprint, long jump and 800-meter relay.
Not only did he not get drafted by a baseball team, big-name colleges didn’t ask for his cellphone number, either, and he ended up at Des Moines Area Community College. And when he finally did get drafted, the Dodgers picked him with their 26th round selection.
Schebler, a 26-year-old corn-fed Iowan from Cedar Rapids with arms like locomotive pistons, leads the Reds with 13 home runs and is second to Joey Votto’s 38 RBI with 27.
HE HAS BEEN SUBJECT TO SLUMPS, a big one to start last season when he hit .176 the first month of the season and was sent down to Class AAA Louisville.
His downturns are shorter these days. He was 0 for 13 before his recent surge — 6 for 13 with three homers and six RBI.
“I would say Schebler has been more than I expected when we got him,” said manager Bryran Price, referring to the trade of Todd Frazier that brought Jose Peraza to the Reds and, as a throw-in, Schebler. “I knew he had power and I knew he played all three defensive positions in the outfield. I didn’t know if he could move to right field exclusively, playing it as well as he has.”
AND PRICE IS IMPRESSED with his ability to shake off mini-slumps and become capable of carrying a large offensive load.
“With young players you don’t know over the course of a season if they will have long periods of struggles and frustrations,” said Price. “Can he shorten the lengths of his struggles? He has shown the ability to work his way out of those struggles. He isn’t suffering paralysis by analysis. And that’s hard for a young player who wants to stick and wants to win a regular job.”
And Price is a Schebler Support, a manager who will stick with a young player when the player seems lost at the plate or afield.
“He doesn’t have to look over his shoulder,” said Price. “I am a believer in Scott Schebler. We all are in this clubhouse. He just needs to keep working to get better.
“I see a guy who does everything average to plus,” Price added. “He defends, hits, hits with power, runs the bases, throws. Somebody might say, ‘Well, average?’ When you are talking about major league standards, everything average to plus is really, really good.”
Schebler broke into a broad grin when told what Price said about his defense.
“I work my tail off to become better,” he said. “It is probably the outfield position I played the least. In the minors I played a lot of left and a lot of center. It was always my arm that kept me out of right, but I’ve really worked hard on my arm and I’m seeing good things from it. The main thing is to get to the ball quick and make sure they don’t run.”
Schebler credits hitting coach Don Long for keeping his head on straight during down times.
“I’ve had problems in the past being letting the lows be low and the highs be high,” he said. “Experiencing those has helped, knowing it is mental as much as physical. Long has been amazing, just to talk life in general, not even baseball. He tells me, ‘Your swing is good. The reason you’re here is your swing is good. It is just a matter of can you get out of your own way?’ He has taken me under his wing.”
THE LATEST FROM THE pitching wounded warrirrs: Brandon Finnegan and Tony Cingrani both threw the bullpen mound before Tuesday’s game.
“Finnegan threw 21 pitches and Cingrani threw 30 and they both looked really good,” said Price. Cingrani will stay back when the Reds embark on an eight-game trip Wednesday. He will do his next bullpen session in Dayton with the Dragons.
“If his bullpen goes well, he could possibly get into a couple of games on rehab while we’re on the road.”
Said Finnegan, “The ball came out nice and easy for me. Clearly, command issues will be the worst, but it wasn’t too bad today. I threw fastballs and a couple of changeups. Next bullpen I’ll mix in some sliders. Today was a big step forward, to show me how I actually felt. Playing catch doesn’t tell you much, but throwing off the mound is a huge difference.
A NATIONAL LEAGUE SCOUT noticed something Monday night with fourth-year umpire Will Little behind the plate.
“There were 10 called strike threes,” he said “That’s in a major league game. That has to be close to a record.” If it was a record, it was the fault of the hitters. MLB said Little missed only three balls and strikes calls all night.
Quote of the Day
A fan behind home plate during Monday’s game, yelling at Joey Votto in the on deck circle: “I remember you when you were good.”
Votto: “I remember you when you were thin. I have everything to lose and you have nothing to lose because you have no life.”