I'll stick these articles in one thread instead of clogging up the board with four or five different threads.
Dragons will swing away
Hitters won't be handicapped by having to take a pitch
By Marc Katz
Dayton Daily News
DAYTON | At bat, the Dayton Dragons will be more aggressive this year. Batters won't have to wait for a strike before they can swing, as they did in 2005.
"We were always behind in the count," said Phil Gentry, who led off most of last season for the Dragons and will start this one in "high" Class A Sarasota.
Gentry batted .271 under the old system before being promoted to Sarasota, but considered his success part "luck."
Not too far into the season, he said, pitchers on other teams were figuring out what was going on. If they didn't throw an easy strike right away, "they either missed their spot or made a mistake," Gentry said.
"I'm a leadoff hitter, so I'm patient. But it changes everything when a pitcher knows you're going to take a strike."
Outfielder B.J. Szymanski also did well last season, until multiple injuries forced him out of the lineup. Szymanski hit .262 with 10 home runs — all while taking a strike before being allowed to swing. Because he didn't get enough playing time, Szymanski will again start the season with the Dragons.
"I did the best I could (last year)," Szymanski said. "I can't say I agreed with the system. Hopefully, we can prove everybody right with this (year's) system."
Taking a strike was the mandate of then-Reds general manager Dan O'Brien, who was replaced by new ownership with Wayne Krivsky. Also gone is the four-day tandem pitching system that limited pitchers to 75 pitches per outing and designated every other "start" a relief appearance.
"We will get to operate a bullpen this year," Dragons pitching coach Larry Pierson said. "We'll be able to put the correct guy in instead of whatever pitcher is available.
"And just because you have a 110-pitch count doesn't mean you're going to get it. Our goal is to keep everybody healthy."
If a pitcher uses too many pitches in any inning, or if he appears to be laboring, the coaches have more free rein to pull a pitcher than they did over the past two seasons. Also, if a pitcher is easily getting out of innings, he may be left in longer.
It all may lead to higher batting averages. It certainly will lead to a five-man starting rotation, beginning with left-handers Travis Wood and Philippe Valiquette and right-handers Zach Ward, Carlos Fisher and John Cueto.
The organization also hopes it leads to more victories.