7/14/2013 1:21 P.M. ET
Baker preaching patience, strategy for Reds hitters
By Jon Cooper / Special to MLB.com
ATLANTA -- Thoughts on hunting and fishing are apropos with a four-day break for the All-Star Game coming up following Sunday afternoon's series finale with the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.
While Reds Manager Dusty Baker wasn't recommending either activity to his players during his Sunday morning press conference, he did recommend looking into the approach of both activities in helping fix one his team's struggles on the field, specifically the recent difficulties hitting with runners in scoring position.
The Reds were hitting .178 with runners in scoring position over their last 27 games (39-for-219) heading into Sunday, and littered the basepaths at Turner Field over the series' first three games, stranding 21 runners while hitting .259 (7-for-27) in such situations and only .208 (5-for-24) since going 2-for-3 in the first inning Thursday night.
Baker cited the lack of a plan as a big problem, which spirals into lack of discipline, playing into opposing pitchers' hands.
"You have to have a philosophy, you have to have a plan," he said. "I just feel a lot of people are going up there with no plan or not realizing what they're trying to get you to do. They're trying to induce you into a double play. So there are certain pitches that are more conducive to a double play pitch. They have to realize that they're in trouble, not you. I've expressed all of these things for like four or five years now. Hit the ball up the middle with two outs or concentrate up the middle, stay out of the air or stay off the ground at certain times. It's a mindset that you have before you even get into the box."
Baker, who hit .280 in RISP situations during his career, recalled a wide variety of advice given to him from advisers, ranging from former teammates and Hall of Famers Tony Perez and Orlando Cepeda to Japanese legend Sadaharu Oh before settling in on the approach of the successful hunter and gatherer at rabbit hunting and fishing.
"If you chase this rabbit all over everywhere, he'll stop and start," Baker said. "Just stand in front and he'll come back to you. But as long as you're chasing him all around. … It's the same way in hitting. Or fishing. To catch the big bass, you've got to have the proper worm presentation, proper color at the time of the year, proper speed or you're not catching anything but the little bluegills."
Baker pointed to Detroit Tigers third baseman and defending American League MVP winner Miguel Cabrera as one of the "big boys" who has separated himself with a plan and a disciplined approach.
"You watch Miguel Cabrera. He has a heck of an idea what he wants to do," he said. "He'll shoot you to right field and take a single one time then he'll turn on you the next time looking inside or back off the plate if they're throwing him sinkers, get up on the plate if they're throwing him breaking balls. That's what I mean by the big boys don't just go for the bait because you know they're baiting the heck out of Cabrera."
Baker also recalled his nickname for a guy who wasn't as patient.
"There was a player I called 'Bluegill' for a long time here. He didn't know why I was calling him 'Bluegill,'" he said. "It was because he'd swing at the first piece of bait they'd throw out there. You catch the big boys because they don't go for the bait. The little guys get themselves out because they go for the first piece of bait they throw out there. That's the Bluegill. So that's what you can do. They say sometimes you get so wound up that you just lose sight of the thought process and over a period of time, over a period of years you should be getting better at it or else you'll forever be a bluegill."
Robinson's speed, bat impress Reds
ATLANTA -- They say there's no defense for speed.
Rookie Derrick Robinson has plenty of it and is eager to keep bringing it when given the opportunity.
"Any time I'm in there I'm just looking to help the team win," said Robinson, who batted second and played left field in Sunday's series finale with Atlanta, coming off his fourth multihit game of the season in Friday night's 4-2 win.
One of those hits Friday came in the three-run first inning, when, with leadoff man Shin-Soo Choo on first, he laid down a perfect bunt in front of home plate and beat catcher Brian McCann's throw to first.
"That was a hit attempt, but I was thinking if I get it down and don't get a hit the worst that can happen is I get Choo over into scoring position," said Robinson, the former fourth-round Draft pick of the Royals in 2006. "I'm sure that's why they have me in the two-hole because right there you just sac the guy, it's a great chance that it could be a hit also, have two guys on for the great hitters behind us."
Robinson has impressed those around him.
"He's a talented player," said Choo, who batted ahead of Robinson on Sunday. "He really doesn't have a lot of home run power but he can run and he can hit and plays great defense. So he helps a lot late in the game. He pinch-runs, pinch-hits. When he gets on base, he's going to get the extra base. He helps a lot."
The 3-4 All-Star punch of first baseman Joey Votto and second baseman Brandon Phillips also likes what Robinson's quickness brings to the lineup.
"Derrick's played really well," said Votto. "I've been nothing but impressed by him and I really like hitting with him in the lineup. He should be very proud of himself how he's started off his Major League career."
"Robinson is doing a great job when he starts," agreed Phillips. "This is his rookie year. He's learning a lot. He's using his wheels, he keeps the defense on its toes and that's a beautiful thing."
The 25-year-old Gainesville, Fla., native, who chose Major League Baseball over then-University of Florida head coach Urban Meyer and the Gators, entered Sunday eighth among National League rookies in batting (.264), tied for third in triples (2), tied for sixth in stolen bases (2), fifth in walks (15) and sixth in on-base percentage (.345).
He'll look to continue to help the team as his teammates help him continue to learn the game.
"You learn something every day," he said. "It's a game of adjustments. You've just got to make the adjustments. Everyone here that's been around for a while has looked out for me in some type of way. We're looking to come back ready to make a run for the playoffs and take the lead in our division. That's the goal for the second half."
Reds reflect on Lincecum's 148-pitch no-hitter
ATLANTA -- The last time the Reds talked about Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum, it was after he was on the losing end of Homer Bailey's no-hitter on July 2.
Sunday morning, he again was a topic of discussion following a no-hitter, this time his 148-pitch effort against San Diego.
The number of pitches -- 39 more than Bailey needed to complete his gem - brought up a quandary for Baker. What would he do in such a situation?.
"That puts you in a tough situation. I mean how often are you going to pitch a no-hitter?" said Baker. "Then, on the other hand, are you risking injury or have they been injured before? Like in the case of [New York Mets pitcher Johan] Santana, they said that wasn't what led to it but contributed to it. It's a tough situation. Either way, you get scrutinized for what you did or didn't do. My guys have been pretty honest. I haven't been in that situation."
The Reds' "honor system" came up on Friday, when starter Bronson Arroyo came out after seven innings, having thrown 90 pitches with Cincinnati holding a 4-2 lead. Arroyo agreed with his manager about the extraordinary pitch count.
"Would it be worth it? Yeah, sure. I mean I've probably thrown up around 130 a few times," he said. "The difference between 115 and 148, it's definitely going to take its toll on your arm, but at the time you're not going to feel it a whole lot. I mean, the aftermath of it is going to be you're probably going to be as sore as you've ever been in your life, but you've got the All-Star break, you've got extra days' rest. To take a no-hitter into a ball game, it only gets to happen maybe once in a lifetime. Twice if you're amazing like Homer Bailey. So you've got to push the envelope a little bit.
"There are a lot of factors going on there and at some point I guess you would have to pull a guy whether he had a no-hitter or not based on pitch count," he added. "But I don't think 148 is that crazy. If you go back and look at guys like Luis Tiant, they were probably throwing like 160 pitches plenty of times."
Baker, a former hitting coach and a premier hitter in his playing days, did find a bright side in the no-hitter.
"Usually I'm not glad for a pitcher throwing a no-hitter, unless he's on my team," he said. "But for a guy that was on top and has sort of been struggling the last couple of years. … There's a good chance when we face him next week he won't throw a no-hitter."
Jon Cooper is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.