04/08/2013 3:43 PM ET
Baker wants hitters to drive up foes' pitch count
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- During Sunday's 6-3 win over the Nationals, the Reds were successful at running ace Stephen Strasburg's pitch count up early. Strasburg lasted only 5 1/3 innings and threw 114 pitches.
Many starting pitchers aren't as stretched out yet to go deeper in games, and Reds manager Dusty Baker wants his hitters to exploit that fact.
"Early in the year, if you have a high pitch inning, just one of them, that does you in for one or two at-bats," Baker said on Monday. "That's why I urge my hitters, especially in the day of the pitch count, to be as many tough, foul-them-off at-bats as you can. Even if they strike out, at least you're taking 10-12 pitches out of the guy. That's equivalent to almost a whole inning from one person."
Confident Frazier off to sizzling start at the plate
ST. LOUIS -- With his role secure and always brimming with self-assurance, third baseman Todd Frazier has gotten off to an extremely hot start for the Reds.
Frazier entered Monday batting .480 (12-for-25) over his first six games with a team-leading three home runs and nine RBIs. He was 10-for-16 (.625) over the last four games.
"I just want to drive the ball and keep doing what I did last year and keep producing for this team," Frazier said. "It goes to show you, when we get good pitching going, our hitting will come through."
Frazier, who excelled last season replacing both Joey Votto and Scott Rolen at the corner infield spots, was told the job at third base was his after Rolen was not re-signed.
After a slow start to Spring Training, Frazier found his swing in the second half of camp. Unlike last year, he didn't have to worry about making the team and could just prepare for the regular season.
"I'm very happy with what's going on with my swing," Frazier said. "I think I'm right where I need to be. I will just keep making slight adjustments to keep being a better hitter and the hitter I need to be. I'm going up there with all the confidence in the world."
Chapman thriving, but workload will lessen
ST. LOUIS -- For those who hoped Aroldis Chapman would be the Reds' closer, because it meant more possibilities to see him pitch, have not been disappointed. Chapman came into Monday having worked five of Cincinnati's six games, including the previous two.
Chapman, who is 2-for-2 in save situations, has entered three games with the score tied and earned a victory against the Angels on Wednesday. The lefty has also struck out six of his last eight batters.
Reds manager Dusty Baker hoped to avoid using the left-hander during the series opener at St. Louis. Ditto for Jonathan Broxton, who has also worked two consecutive days.
"Broxton hasn't thrown as many pitches as Chapman," Baker said Monday morning. "It would be nice to have one today, one tomorrow and both the next day. Then we have an off-day. A complete game would cure everything."
Don't expect as much frequency of Chapman's appearances as the regular season wears on.
"We're going to do it the same way we did it last year," Baker said. "We have to take care of him and protect him, too. Fortunately for us, we've had off-days. Soon, we're not going to have off-days. The next stretch we're going 20 days in a row. Guys will be more acclimated to go consecutive days than they were at the start of the season. Our starters will hopefully be sharper and go deeper in games."
As for the bullpen in general, Baker wouldn't mind if no games go to extra innings for a while. The group, which was without lefty Sean Marshall until Sunday, has been taxed early.
"You hate that coming out of Spring Training, because nobody is used to it," Baker said. "They barely got to work two days in a row. At Spring Training, they were working one every two days, once every three days. Then all of a sudden, it's boom."
• The Reds drew 197,598 fans to Great American Ball Park for the first six-game homestand, which is a new stadium record. It broke the previous first-homestand record of 173,296 set during the ballpark's inaugural 2003 season. The franchise record is 210,896 fans, set at Cinergy Field in 2000.
• Triple-A Louisville lefty starter Tony Cingrani, who struck out 14 in his six-scoreless innings season debut, was named Monday as the International League's pitcher of the week.