Stubbs, Baker meet about hitting
Reds manager Dusty Baker had center fielder Drew Stubbs in his office this morning to talk about hitting and Stubbs’ recent struggles. His average is down to .233 and he’s struck out 11 times in the last 24 at-bats over seven games.
“He’s been a little bit defensive,” Baker said. “He keeps waiting to see if it’s a ball or strike and you don’t have that kind of time. You have to start your swing and stop it versus going from a stop to a start. He’s a smart kid. We’re talking about hitting in a mathematical sense.”
Baker, who started Chris Heisey for Stubbs, realizes he’s criticized for playing Stubbs regularly in center field. While Stubbs is ranked seventh in the NL with 85 strikeouts, he’s sixth in the league in steals and has 36 RBIs. He’s batting .289 since moving to the seventh spot on May 7. And defensively, no one on the Reds can cover more ground in center field.
“His upside potential is amazing,” Baker said. “I know people get on me for playing him. But this isn’t a Willy Taveras situation. People were upset because we were playing Willy. But we were playing Willy because we knew we were trying to trade Willy. You can’t trade somebody if he’s not playing.”
Taveras, of course, was the much-maligned center fielder the Reds employed last season. He was traded over the winter to Oakland. He’s since been released twice.
Stubbs said he’s confidence has remained strong.
“This is a constant battle to stay sharp in this game,” Stubbs said. “This is such a tough game. You’re going to go through your series of ups and downs. The key is to maximize the time you’re feeling good and rolling up there and minimize the times that you’re not.”
*One thing fans don’t get to see or hear as much is Baker’s knowledge of the game, especially how he gained that knowledge. Although he likes to surround himself with younger people and his hip to the current culture, he is also a link to baseball as it was played in the 1960s and 70s. It’s that experience he passes on to younger players like Stubbs.
“When I was rookie, Ron Fairly was with the Cardinals,” Baker said. “He called me into another room and gave me a two-strike approach. I was on the other team. Tony Perez, Orlando Cepeda — those guys taught me how to hit with runners in scoring position. Back then, guys would talk a lot especially if they knew you could hit. Pete Rose took me to his house to talk about hitting. I left a runner on third once with less than two outs and Bob Watson took me over to his house. He said ‘don’t be leaving money out there.’ He taught me a theory and philosophy on how to pick them up.”
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