Tuesday, May 31, 2011
CINCINNATI — Manager Dusty Baker realizes that his MVP first baseman, Joey Votto, needs some protection, so on Tuesday he named Jay Bruce to be Votto’s personal body guard.
Baker moved Bruce from fifth to fourth in the batting order and dropped struggling Scott Rolen from fourth to fifth.
With Rolen in a funk, teams were not giving Votto anything to hit because Rolen has been unable to hit behind Votto’s constant stream of walks — 48 to lead the league, seven intentional.
Bruce is swinging a molten steel bat these days so Baker figures if he bats Bruce behind Votto that pitchers will have to offer Votto more pitches to hit or face some deadly consequences.
BRUCE WAS NAMED National League Player of the Week for what he did over the past seven days — .353, 13 RBI, four homers, 25 total bases, .735 slugging percentage.
And Bruce is odds-on to win NL Player of the Month for May — 12 homers, 32 RBI (both tops in the league), with a .346 batting average.
“We’re just trying to take advantage of Bruce’s hot bat right now and help Joey, too,” said Baker.
“I’ve been thinking about it (flip-flopping Bruce and Rolen) for a few days, but I didn’t want to do it if a team had a number of left-handers in the bullpen,” said Baker, referring to the fact both Votto and Bruce bat lefthanded. “I might hit Bruce fourth against righthanders and fifth againste lefthanders, then bat Rolen fourth against lefthander and Bruce fifth against lefthanders.”
Bruce and Votto, though, are treating lefthanded pitchers like kissin’ cousins — Votto is hitting .420 against lefties and Bruce is hitting .381. Nevertheless, this series is the perfect time to try it. Milwaukee does not have a single lefthander in the bullpen. In fact, the Brewers signed lefthander Daniel Ray Herrera ad couple of weeks ago whe nthe Reds released him, but he is in th minors.
“I know they’re both hitting lefties,” said Baker, “but I don’t like to make it easy for the other manager to bring in a lefty and have him face both of them, rather than make him bring in two or three pitchers in one inning.”
BRUCE’S INCREDIBLE May isn’t helping him in the All-Star voting. The first phase of voting was announced Tuesday and Bruce is 12th among outfielders.
Brandon Phillips is a big leader over Milwaukee’s Rickie Weeks at second base, but Votto trails Albert Pujols at first base.
Despite a down year, so far, Pujols leads all players in NL voting with 988,784. Votto is second behind Pujols in the first base voting, despite much better numbers. It’s that St. Louis attendance that is probably going to do Votto in again, making it necessary for him to be named to the team by NL manager Bruce Bochy or once again win the special fan vote-off that Votto won last year.
IT WAS A SHORT stay for pitcher Tom Cochran. He got to wear a major-league uniform for the first time, but didn’t get to pitch during his three days here. To make room for Tuesday’s starter, Chad Reineke, the Reds sent Cochran back to Class AAA Louisville.
“I was trying to get Cochran into a game, but a situation to get him in one never came up,” said Baker.
AROLDIS CHAPMAN is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list and he is back in Cincinnai, in the Reds’ clubhouse, even after a bad outing Sunday during which he gave up three runs and four hits in 1 2/3 innings to blow a save and lose a game for Class AAA Louisville.
“He’s here and we’ll let you know in a few days what we’ll do with him,” said Baker. “We can’t tell you everything because we’re not really sure, although we have a pretty good idea.”
I’LL BE ABSENT for the next six days, attending my stepson Chad’s ‘destination wedding’ at the Mayan Riviera near Cancun, Mexico. So there won’t be any blogs for the next week, so please be nice to each other.
While I love going to the wedding, I’m not thrilled to be returning to Cancun. Two years ago I was there with Nadine and it rained every day, I suffered food poisoning and a little dose of malaria.
Swore I’d never go back.Tweet