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08/24/11 8:31 PM ET
Rookie Sappelt learning on the job
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
MIAMI -- Back in Spring Training, when outfielder Dave Sappelt batted .564, fans were clamoring for him to make the Reds out of camp. However, manager Dusty Baker repeatedly said at the time that there was more for Sappelt to learn than just hitting.
During Sappelt's first callup, he hasn't carved up opposition pitching quite the same. That made Tuesday's three-hit game during an 8-6 win over the Marlins one to savor. It also raised the rookie's batting average from .209 to .250.
"I've been struggling here recently," Sappelt said. "I talked to my dad [Monday] night and he said, 'They're beating you with fastballs.' That's a thing you can always overcome. Once they're beating you with breaking balls, you're in a titanic struggle. Since they were just beating me with fastballs, I had to eventually come out of it."
During Cincinnati's four-run ninth-inning rally, Sappelt saw three fastballs from closer Leo Nunez before hitting a 1-2 hanging changeup for a two-run double to left field that scored the tying run.
To improve his long-term chances to stay with the Reds, Sappelt will have to upgrade his overall play in the field and on the bases. In the previous series at Pittsburgh, he looked tentative on a couple of balls and once missed a cutoff man.
"Most guys have something to work on," Baker said on Wednesday. "Very few guys come from the Minors that are totally big league ready. I don't, but most people go on offensive production and batting averages vs. the total game. If you're going to win in the big leagues, you want guys that have the total game. In the last decade, you do as much teaching at the big league level as ever before.
"Baserunning, hitting the cutoff man, secondary leads, bunting, when to take and when to swing, getting signs ... these are some of the things that you keep stressing and stressing and talking about every day."
Alonso could see action at third base
MIAMI -- Like he has often over the previous couple of weeks, Reds rookie Yonder Alonso took pregame ground balls at third base on Wednesday. Reds manager Dusty Baker hasn't ruled out getting Alonso into a game there.
"There's a chance," Baker said. "I'd like to get him in a blowout game -- one way or the other -- first before [he make a start]. It depends on who is pitching. You have [Johnny] Cueto going for an ERA title. Those things don't come along very often. You'd rather not put him in a situation where a guy like [Mike] Leake or Dontrelle [Willis] throws mostly ground balls to the pull side. It's not fair to him or us or the guy pitching."
Alonso played his natural position of first base on Tuesday and went 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs in an 8-6 Reds win over the Marlins. Of course, that spot regularly belongs to Joey Votto. Alonso has had four starts in left field but has yet to demonstrate a comfort level at the position.
If Alonso could handle third base well, it would give the organization an option beyond Scott Rolen, who is currently on the disabled list.
"It's a situation where we'll pick our spots, he'll continue to work," Baker said. "I will pick the situation. Offense wins you games. Generally speaking, defense loses you games."
Shortstop Edgar Renteria started Game 1 of Wednesday's doubleheader vs. Florida. It was Renteria's first start since Aug. 16 at Washington, when he left that game with a strained left groin. Renteria exited in the sixth inning due to soreness.
The Reds' twin bill vs. the Marlins was their first traditional doubleheader since Aug. 28, 2007, at Pittsburgh. The last time the Reds swept a traditional doubleheader was June 5, 1999, at Kansas City.