9/14/2013 2:07 P.M. ET
Baker looking for offense to reduce strikeout totals
By Kevin Massoth / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- Reds manager Dusty Baker had a meeting with many of the team's offensive weapons prior to Saturday's day game at Miller Park.
Baker said they were "just talking," but he made it clear later that he was not happy with the amount of strikeouts his team has taken recently.
The Reds fanned 23 times in their previous four games entering Saturday, which included three losses to the Cubs and Brewers. In those three losses combined, the Reds scored two runs.
"Strikeouts, you don't have a chance to do nothing," Baker said. "No matter what the stat boys say, you put the ball in play. [Striking out] was an embarrassment back in my time. It's not such an embarrassment now, it's accepted. But it makes it harder to win. Maybe I'm old, but sometimes I don't like the way the game's going."
The Reds entered Saturday with 1,144 strikeouts this season, 10th most in the Major Leagues. On Friday, the Brewers beat the Reds with three RBI singles from Carlos Gomez, none of which were hit particularly hard.
Baker remembered a player named Dave "Swish" Nicholson that he played with that was stuck in the Minor Leagues due to a high strikeout count.
"There were guys that got sent to the Minors for striking out," Baker said. "I played with a guy named Dave Nicholson, "Swish" Nicholson that's why he got the name Swish. Built like Mickey Mantle. I played with him in the Minors, I couldn't believe this guy was in the Minors Leagues. In my first year at Double-A I called my dad and I said, 'Dad, [if] this guy is in the Minor Leagues, I'll never make it to the big leagues.'"
Miller Park giving Ludwick, Reds problems in field
MILWAUKEE -- A big play in the Reds' 5-1 loss to the Brewers on Friday was the first-inning Jonathan Lucroy line drive that left fielder Ryan Ludwick lost in the Miller Park lights.
Ludwick looked to have a bead on the ball in the gap, but after he lost it in the lights it landed for a double. Two batters later, Carlos Gomez had a two-run single, and the Brewers were well on their way to their seventh win in their last 11 chances against the Reds.
Reds manager Dusty Baker knows exactly how Ludwick felt Friday.
"I told Luddy that I remember losing two," said Baker of his playing days. "For those who haven't played or been out there, it's a bad feeling. I lost one in Montreal, bases loaded. And I lost one in Riverfront Stadium, men on second and third, two outs. Gary Carter hit the first one and Dan Driessen hit the second one. But you never forget it."
Baker said players have complained about the positioning of the lights at Miller Park, including Ludwick, who also had issues in right field in Milwaukee in the past.
"The balls in the gap, sometimes that medium fly ball," Ludwick said. "I tried to get down low and tried to get out of the lights, but ... I was trying to just get a different angle on it, and I just couldn't get it out [of the lights]."
Baker's own experiences help him console his players as a manager.
"When I was managing San Francisco, I remember Stan Javier lost one in the lights," Baker said. "And I started to get mad, but I said, 'That happened to me.' So I had to go over and put my arm around him versus getting [upset] at him. But then, you know, when that happens, sometimes it's not your day and sometimes it's their day."
Baker also talked about the challenging shadows at Miller Park during day games. The Reds and Brewers finish their three-game series on Sunday at 2:10 p.m. ET.
"I remember when Ben Sheets used to almost throw a no-hitter when those shadows were out there," Baker said. "You couldn't pick up and distinguish between his fastball and his curveball. Seemed like we'd always get Sheets. Dang, you couldn't see. You know, vision's the whole thing in hitting. Everybody talks about hands, feet, everything. You've got to see it first. If you don't see it, you don't have a chance. ... So, this is a bad start time. But I heard it was scheduled to be TV, and they never changed it back."
Kevin Massoth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.