05-28-2006, 11:53 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: North Carolina
The Hat to bat leadoff?
CINCINNATI -- You can't blame Reds manager Jerry Narron for thinking outside the box.
The Reds have been shut out in consecutive games for the first time in more than two seasons.
Entering Sunday's action, Austin Kearns' home run in the sixth inning of Wednesday's game against the Brewers was the last time they scored a run. That's a span of 21 scoreless innings.
There was nothing unusual about the lineup Narron penned for Sunday's game against the Diamondbacks. But, he admitted to reporters that he did have another lineup in mind.
This one had Felipe Lopez moving down in the order and had Scott Hatteberg moving up. Way up.
Narron considered batting Hatteberg in the leadoff spot.
"It wasn't your classic lineup," Narron said. "That one might have scored some runs. But, it wasn't the prettiest thing in the world."
The proposed lineup also called for Adam Dunn to bat in the No. 2 spot. That's nothing new, but the possibility that Hatteberg might bat leadoff raised eyebrows.
Narron's rationale makes sense, however.
Although he's not the fleetest of foot, Hatteberg owns a .403 on-base percentage and has just 12 strikeouts through 40 games, making him a legitimate candidate.
He's batted leadoff before in his career, but Hatteberg said nobody with the Reds had approached him about doing it here.
"We've gone through stretches where we haven't gotten on base," Hatteberg said. "I understand why they'd put me there. I've been getting on base more. I wouldn't change my approach or what I do. Besides getting more at-bats, there's really nothing different about batting leadoff."
The Reds faced Arizona rookie Enrique Gonzalez, who is making his big-league debut on Sunday. The Reds haven't been shutout in three consecutive games since April 1989.
"We've been shutout six times this year," said Narron. "There is no way in the world I would've have thought we'd be shutout six times ... all year."
Reeling Reds: Narron has said on several occasions this season that the Reds are a much better team when they're manufacturing runs not waiting for three-run home runs to rescue them.
"I think we're doing that now," Narron said. "I really do."
The Reds went 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position in the first two games of the series with Arizona. They stranded 13 baserunners in those two games.
"I don't know if it's magnified because we've been shut out," said Narron. "But, we seem to be taking good pitches early in the count and swinging at bad pitches late. We just start hacking."
Phillips OK: Narron said one of the determining factors in using his "alternate" lineup was the condition of second baseman Brandon Phillips, who was struck on the wrist by Diamondbacks starter Juan Cruz in the third inning of Saturday's game.
Phillips said his hand stiffened up a bit overnight, but he was slated to start at second base and bat seventh on Sunday.
"I'm straight," said Phillips. "We'll see how it feels, but I think I'll be alright."
Phillips leads the club with a .303 batting average and is tied with Adam Dunn for the team lead with 31 RBIs. His defense drew praise from Narron who said Phillips could be in line for a Gold Glove Award in the near future.
"It's a nice feeling when your manager can say that," said Phillips.
Wilson update: Right-hander Paul Wilson continues to take steps in his recovery from shoulder surgery that was performed last June to repair the torn rotator cuff and frayed labrum in his right shoulder.
Wilson made two rehabilitation starts, one each for Class A Dayton and Triple-A Louisville, before being recalled from his rehab assignment due to shoulder fatigue.
Wilson has thrown long-toss each day during the current homestand at Great American Ball Park.
"There's really nothing new," Wilson said. "I wish I could tell you guys I was pitching tomorrow, but..."
Coming up: The Reds begin a three-game series with the Cubs on Monday at Wrigley Field. Right-hander Elizardo Ramirez will make his sixth start of the season for the Reds. The Cubs will send right-hander Kerry Wood to the mound. Gametime is set for 2:20 p.m. ET.