Stubbs, Heisey/Ludwick, Votto

*Two big Spring Training rituals are on the docket for Saturday. Photo day and live BP where Reds hitters face the pitchers.

For photo day, all 58 players in camp go to different stations and take a variety of pictures in different poses. These are the still photos you often see on the scoreboard at games when a batter or pitcher enters the game.

As for live BP, that’s quite a welcome for hitters that are only in their second official day of Spring Training.

“Those aren’t very good days for the hitters,” manager Dusty Baker said. “I remember those days. The pitchers are way ahead and it looks like they’re throwing a thousand mph. You have to really be careful not to start bad habits like pulling away, flinching. You’ve got to have it. Pitchers can have all the bullpens they want but when there’s a live hitter up there, it’s a totally different window to throw it to.”

*When asked about CF Drew Stubbs, Baker said he didn’t expect his off-season practice results to really surface until regular season games begin. Hitters and pitchers don’t go over scouting reports and don’t approach everything the same in exhibition games. While Baker hopes Stubbs improves as a hitter, especially in cutting down strikeouts, he gave an overwhelming endorsement to the importance of Stubbs defensively.

“Stubbs is a probably as big a part of defense as anybody. Not just on our team, in the league,” Baker said. “When the Big Red Machine got Cesar Geronimo, they didn’t get him to hit. They got Geronimo to play center field and play defense. To me playing defense is like rebounding in basketball. You’re preventing second and third shots. Look how many runs Stubbs saves.”

*It will be a different type of platoon in left field this season with Chris Heisey and Ryan Ludwick. Both are right-handed hitters so Baker will have match them up to their strengths each game.

“That’s the plan, right now,” Baker said. “Ludwick likes the ball down. Heisey likes the ball up. Ludwick likes the ball more down and away and Heisey likes the ball in and up.”

That means checking the pitcher and going over his report before each lineup is written out.

“That’s part of making out the lineup,” Baker said. “It’s difficult when a guy hits two or three home runs against a guy he should hit and then you don’t play him the next day. A few times, you say ‘ok’, and then play him the next day and they do nothing. How many times does that happen?”

*Joey Votto sat down and chatted with the Cincinnati TV media today. As usual, Votto is always finding room for improvement but he was very pleased to have met his goals in 2011.

“The thing I was most proud of last year was the number of games I played,” Votto said. “I had some complaints. Most players do hoping they can do better. I played 161 games and at the very beginning, I said my top priority was staying healthy. I achieved that goal. The second thing I mentioned was getting better as a player. At the end of the season, I could honestly say I did. I had a lot more challenges. Baseball was kind of different to me last year because of the way I was pitched and approached in general. I think I met that challenge.”

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