View Full Version : Notes: Encarnacion producing in "clutch"

04-26-2006, 02:17 PM
Notes: Encarnacion producing in clutch
Young third baseman showing patience, leading Reds in RBIs
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- It's a basic tenet for hitting in run-producing situations -- concentrate and wait for a good pitch.

As simple as it sounds, younger hitters don't always grasp that fundamental right away.

Not so for 23-year-old Reds third baseman Edwin Encarnacion.

"The only thing I do different [with runners on base] is I try to be more patient at the plate and be aggressive with pitches in the strike zone," said Encarnacion on Wednesday morning. He took the team RBI lead by driving in four runs during Tuesday's 6-5 win over the Nationals.

In his first full season, Encarnacion entered Wednesday's game batting .279 with three homers and 22 RBIs. Another positive were his 11 walks and .388 on-base percentage.

"This many RBIs in April for a young guy is a little bit surprising," Reds manager Jerry Narron said.

More remarkable was that Encarnacion had just one RBI and a .211 average through the season's first week after coming off a sensational Spring Training. He hasn't been hitless in multiple games yet, and he's had at least three RBIs in a game five times.

"I know that first 10 days of Spring Training, we saw a pretty good player," Narron said. "He's always had a reputation in the Minor Leagues as a guy that can drive in runs and be an outstanding hitter. There's no reason why he shouldn't he do it at the Major League level."

Working battery: As has been the case in Bronson Arroyo's three previous starts, third catcher David Ross was starting behind the plate on Wednesday afternoon.

"Three catchers in a three-game series," Narron said. Jason LaRue caught Tuesday and Javier Valentin started Monday.

Arroyo and Ross have formed a solid battery since both were acquired during Spring Training. Narron had no explanation for why they worked well together.

"I don't know. He caught [Arroyo] the first day in Fort Myers," Narron said. "He had a really good day. We're just sticking with it."

With LaRue still being eased back after recovering from knee surgery, it's likely Ross will keep catching for Arroyo. Valentin will likely handle rookie Elizardo Ramirez's starts, like he did Monday.

"That sounds like a good plan," Narron said. "It's not going to be easy to find regular playing time for any of the three. I'll try my best to make it work and keep everybody sharp."

First fan: The Reds' fast start this season no doubt has fans feeling optimistic, none probably more the club's most avid fan. Chief executive officer Bob Castellini attended Tuesday night's 6-5 win. Castellini and ownership partner Tom Williams also visited with Narron and the players after the game.

"I'm a fan. I'm just excited. It's fun, it's upbeat," said Castellini, who returned to Cincinnati after the game. "These kids don't think they can lose. That's the attitude you have to take."

Since taking over the team in January, Castellini's enthusiasm has immediately filtered down to the clubhouse, something that Narron has always appreciated.

"It's huge in professional sports to have strong leadership from the top," Narron said. "The players want to know ownership cares and that ownership is going to do whatever it can to help the club win. I think all of our guys know that."

Coming up: After an off-day Thursday, the Reds return to Great American Ball Park on Friday to open a three-game series against the Astros. Left-hander Brandon Claussen will face Reds killer Roy Oswalt, who is 15-0 with a 2.41 ERA in 19 career games vs. Cincinnati. He has the record for most career victories against a single team without a loss.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


04-26-2006, 02:45 PM
"That sounds like a good plan," Narron said. "It's not going to be easy to find regular playing time for any of the three. I'll try my best to make it work and keep everybody sharp."

I know how...go with 2 catchers like normal team ;)

04-27-2006, 08:47 AM
Reds notebook
Encarnacion continues spring fling; Production carries over for young third baseman

WASHINGTON - Hitting coach Chris Chambliss was talking about Edwin Encarnacion during spring training when Encarnacion was leading the world in about a half-dozen offensive categories.

Chambliss said, no, Encarnacion wouldn't be able to sustain those kinds of numbers once the season started.

"But I think he's going to be a pretty good RBI guy," Chambliss said.

So far, Encarnacion has proven Chambliss to be a prophet.

Encarnacion's RBI single in the fourth inning Wednesday gave him a team-high 23 on the year. He went into the day tied for third in the National League.

"I didn't expect him to lead the team in RBI," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "I know that first 10 days of spring training that we saw a pretty good player."

Encarnacion has not put up the huge numbers as he did early in the spring. But he has been the most consistent Red at the plate. He has reached base in 19 of 20 games.

He's walked 12 times and struck out only 10. He struck out 60 times and walked 20 last season.

Encarnacion is hitting .292 with a .400 on-base percentage.

"I try to be patient," he said, "wait for my pitch."

Encarnacion is the youngest Red, at 23. His eight errors are troubling, but his bat will keep him in the lineup unless he really melts down defensively.

"He's always had a reputation in the minor leagues of a guy who could drive in runs," Narron said. "There's no reason he shouldn't continue to do that at the major-league level.

"But this many RBI in April for a young guy is surprising."

PHILLIPS AT 2ND: Brandon Phillips went 0-for-5 to end his hitting streak at nine games.

But Phillips showed amazing range at second base in this series.

"It helps big time," Narron said. "From everything I've heard, he was a pretty good shortstop. Any time you take an athletic guy who can play short and play it well and put them in another position, you've got something pretty good."

GRIFFEY UPDATE: Narron wouldn't go so far as to say he expected Ken Griffey Jr. back Friday.

"I don't know," he said. "I hope so. I'm going to try to see him (today). We're looking forward to having him back. Everyone misses him."

Griffey is eligible to come off the disabled list Friday.

MERCKER'S BACK: The best sign in Tuesday's game might have been left-hander Kent Mercker's 1-2-3 eighth inning.

"We've got to have Merck to pitch for us to be successful," Narron said, "because of the experience he brings and his know-how. He's got pretty good stuff, too."

Tuesday's appearance was only Mercker's second in the last 11 games. He had been bothered by a sore lat muscle.

Mercker pitched again Wednesday but wasn't as good. He got the first two outs of the ninth, but he walked two as well.

DOMINANT STARTS: Bronson Arroyo went eight innings and allowed one run in his previous outing, a 3-1 win over Milwaukee. He is the first Reds pitcher to go at least eight innings in back-to-back starts since Aaron Harang did so May 9 and 14 of last year.

The Reds haven't had a combined one-hitter, as they did Wednesday, since Aug. 19, 1999. Pete Harnisch pitched eight innings and Scott Williamson one.

CATCHER ROTATION: David Ross started Wednesday's game at catcher, making him the third player to catch a game in the three-game series.

Ross has been Arroyo's personal catcher.

"David Ross does a great job of catching," Narron said. "He calls a good game. He receives the ball extremely well. Pitchers like to throw to him. That's not to say they don't like throwing to the other guys."

As long as Elizardo Ramirez is in the rotation, you'll probably see Ross catch Arroyo, Javier Valentin catch Ramirez and Jason LaRue get the bulk of the rest of the time.

"That would probably be a good way to do it," Narron said. "It's not going to be easy to get any of them regular playing time."

Ross got the scoring started with an upper-deck home run in the third. It was his third homer of the year, all having landed in the upper deck.

FARM REPORT: Johnny Cueto, a 20-year-old Dominican right-hander, had another good start at Single-A Dayton.

He pitched five shutout innings in the Dragons' 4-1 win over Peoria. He allowed three hits, walked none and struck out eight.

Cueto is 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA. He's allowed 14 hits in 20 innings and walked only two, striking out 29.

Left-hander Phil Dumatrait bounced back from a rough start for Chattanooga. He allowed one run in five innings in the Lookouts' 3-2 win over West Tennessee.

Dumatrait is 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA.

E-mail jfay@enquirer.com