Looking ahead, Bruce update
It’s a natural reaction for Reds fans to freak out about the Joey Votto developments of the last couple of days. Moving on without him for the next 3-4 weeks is as a big an obstacle for the team to clear as there will be this season.
But here is some good news for the Reds — the schedule.
Assuming the worst case that Votto misses a month — that covers 29 games for the Reds. Only six of those games — vs. the Pirates and Mets at GABP — are vs. teams with over .500 records. Two portions of the schedule are vs. last place teams in Houston and Colorado come on the same road trip.
The biggest concern is having people within step up. Scott Rolen will be a huge factor. He’s been hitting his last three games and they will have to monitor his health. If Todd Frazier can fill in for Votto like he did for Rolen, it will be a big boost. In today’s lineup, Brandon Phillips finally gets his wish to be a No. 3 hitter. It’s something he’s wanted his whole career. Since moving to cleanup and getting over his hamstring injury, Phillips has been the second-best run producer on the club. And Ryan Ludwick is batting cleanup — he has heated up lately and can be a big run producer despite his low average. Jay Bruce, who isn’t starting tonight, will need to find a successful groove that lasts longer — at least the next 3-4 weeks would be to his team’s liking for sure.
*The Reds also need a lot of help. The Pirates have only seven games against winning teams out of their next 29 (the Reds and Dodgers). Over the Cardinals’ next 28 games, only eight are vs. winning clubs (the Dodgers and Giants).
*Speaking of Bruce, he got the day off because Dusty Baker felt he needed a break.
“He’s feeling OK. He’s not looking OK is he?” Baker said. “Exactly, that’s why he’s getting the day off. It’s either pay me now or pay me later and look up his record after the All-Star break and guys that don’t get a break. I told him to chill and show up at 5 o’clock and don’t hit too much.”
Bruce is 3-for-16 (.188) in four games since the break and 8-for-45 (.178) in July.
“Sometimes you’re doing too much,” Baker said. “It’s getting late. You need your energy. You need your strength. Sometimes 110 percent is too much. It’s mental and emotional when you’re not getting hits.”
*Baker also had a plea for media to not descend too much on players like Frazier.
“Don’t put too much pressure on them that’s already on them. Please,” Baker said. “I know you always have to grab somebody all the time but they’re kids. Let them play and let them enjoy. You don’t have to ask them questions every day about this or that they don’t have the answers to. They’re still trying to find their way through the woods without a flashlight. Just let them play.”