Dunn hitting to all fields
By Hal McCoy

Staff Writer

HOUSTON — It was so apparent as to cause heads to jerk in disbelief — Cincinnati Reds slugger Adam Dunn hitting the baseball to the left side.

In Wrigley Field, it shocked the Chicago Cubs, who employed an exaggerated shift, placing the shortstop to the right of second base and leaving the left side guarded only by the third baseman.

On Wednesday, Dunn made contact three times — hitting the baseball to the left side all three, including a double. During the three-game series, Dunn made contact 11 times and hit the ball to the left side five times, including two doubles and a home run.

On purpose? An accident? Reds manager Jerry Narron hopes it’s by design.

“I’m trying not to pull everything, trying to not try to do too much with pitches,” Dunn said. “Just trying to hit it where it is pitched, and that’s where they were throwing it (outside). That’s what I used to do, and hopefully, I can get that back.”

Dunn did it his first season (2001), spraying the baseball everywhere. Narron was not with the club, but he has heard the stories.

“I’ve noticed him in batting practice staying inside the ball and using the entire field,” Narron said. “When he is not hooking the ball, he hits. I hate to see him hook a ball foul, because that means he isn’t hitting.

“When he’s driving the ball to left-center, gap to gap, he’s a much better hitter. I don’t know if it’s that shift or that he is trying to get back to hitting the ball where it is pitched. Everybody tells me when he first came to the big leagues he used the entire field.”

Narron says he’d like to see Dunn use a little man’s swing. “And with his strength, if he hits the ball where it is pitched, he’d still hit 40 home runs, which is what Frank Thomas did when he was younger.”

If the shoe fits

Cincinnati’s Ken Griffey Jr. opened a box awaiting him in the Minute Maid Park visitors’ clubhouse and pulled out a pair of shiny black patent leather Nike Air spikes.

“My feet have been killing me, so I asked Nike to design me a pair with more support,” Griffey said. “They told me it would take a month. That was a week ago, and today 30 pairs arrived.”

Pizza pie in the eye

The Reds were in a playful mood before Friday’s game. High jinks began when the players caught the Fox television folks taping an interview in the players’ dining room, a piece about pitcher Todd Coffey eating banana and Miracle Whip sandwiches.

Cameras in the pregame clubhouse are a no-no. A couple of players streaked in front of the camera. Another player rubbed a piece of pizza into interviewer Jim Mann’s face, “Rubbing it so hard I swallowed the pepperoni,” said a laughing Mann, who took it all in good spirit.

Said old-school player Rich Aurilia, “We’re in second place, and we’re talking about Miracle Whip and bananas?”

The interview was never completed, and as Dunn said, “All good, clean fun.”

The QB can hit

Narron sat in the dugout at 3 p.m. Friday during a special event in which several players from the NFL’s Houston Texans took batting practice for charity.

Suddenly, quarterback David Carr stepped into the batter’s box and hit three balls off the viaduct above the Crawford Boxes in left field.

“He can swing the bat a little bit,” Narron said. “I saw (New England quarterback) Tom Brady hit in Boston one day, and he can could swing it a little bit, too.”

Asked if Brady cleared the Green Monster, Narron said, “Oh, yeah.”

An Astros official said Carr has no real baseball background, “He is just a fantastic athlete.”

Phillips up first

For the second time this season, Brandon Phillips batted leadoff for the Reds, and Narron said, “Just want to leave Felipe Lopez where he has been (second) and try, uh, SOMETHING.”

Phillips said he batted leadoff a lot in the minors: “Actually batted first, second and third. I love batting leadoff, but it’s not what I love that counts — it is what the manager loves.”

Contact this reporter at hmccoy@DaytonDailyNews.com.

Coaches visit ailing Ruhle

Pitching coach Vern Ruhle hasn’t been with the Cincinnati Reds since he was diagnosed with cancer this spring. He has spent a lot of time in Houston’s M.D. Anderson Hospital.

Manager Jerry Narron and the coaching staff visited Ruhle, who underwent a stem cell transplant within the last two weeks.

“I saw him Thursday and Chris Chambliss saw him Thursday night and Tom Hume and Lee Tunnell saw him Friday,” said Narron. “He is hoping to get out next week. They got an apartment here. He says he feels OK, about as well as you can, and he is very positive.

“He’s been having some leg problems, blood clots, which is one of the reasons he still in the hospital.”

— Hal McCoy