8/5/2014 7:36 P.M. ET
Reds having trouble finding offense in AL parks
By Alec Shirkey / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- While offensive production has been tough to come by for the Reds this year, they have especially struggled to score in American League ballparks.
Through six AL road games, the club has gone 0-6 and scored a combined 13 runs. Cincinnati's designated hitters have fared even worse in those contests, going a collective 2-for-19 with no RBIs. Ryan Ludwick, who handled DH duties in Tuesday night's tilt with the Tribe, entered the night 1-for-9 in those games despite previous experience in that capacity.
"I've done it a lot in the Minor Leagues and some in the big leagues and being on other American League teams," Ludwick said. "It's nothing new for me."
If so, then why the apparent Interleague hitting woes?
Though it certainly qualifies as a small snapshot of the whole season, Reds manager Bryan Price believes the source of his team's slow bats in such matchups could be linked to the team handing the role to part-time players -- namely Neftali Soto, Donald Lutz and Jack Hannahan -- in addition to Ludwick, who, like many Reds players, has endured a down year at the plate.
"Roster construction, when you know you have a designated hitter," Price said, "that's typically going to be a guy that's in there all the time as a run producer -- as opposed to using one of your guys you may say is a bench player or platoon player.
"AL teams should have advantage at home."
Lutz gaining comfort in role as bench player
CLEVELAND -- Since serving as a heart-of-the-order hitter for much of his ascension through the Minor Leagues, infielder Donald Lutz has had to grow accustomed to his new role as an occasional bench bat with the Reds.
Lutz entered Tuesday 7-for-36 at the plate this season after batting .241 through 34 games last year. As he continues to log more time in the Majors, however, the difficulty of only seeing game action every three or four days is beginning to prove less hindering for the 25-year-old.
"It's not easy," Lutz said on Tuesday. "What I've learned from last year is you can't get too upset with yourself. Say you get one at-bat and then get a couple days off, you can't sit on that at-bat if it wasn't successful. I remember last year, I kind of took that approach of, 'I wish I could get another chance.'
"If you get that one chance, you got to be ready to perform. There's no time to think about, 'Is this right?'"
The Reds, for what it's worth, would much prefer to see Lutz gain more seasoning in an everyday role with Triple-A Louisville, as he has only logged 119 at-bats at that level in his professional career. But with the club's infield already dangerously thin with injuries to Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, manager Bryan Price has had little flexibility in the matter.
"I think Donald would benefit from playing more regularly," Price said. "But right now where we are with our 40-man roster, he's better suited to come up here and give us that bench support."
Though his overall numbers may not jump off the page, Lutz has gone 3-for-7 as a pinch-hitter since being recalled in July, including a ninth-inning double off Indians reliever John Axford on Tuesday.
"I remember last year was a little tougher," Lutz said. "I learned a lot from that. I've become a much more [comfortable] hitter in that way, in that role they need me in right now. I feel more comfortable."
Quote to note
"I love the National League game over the American League game, with the only exception being when you have a pitcher in the game that's pitching well and you're behind or tied late in the game, that you have to remove him. It may have nothing to do at all with performance or pitch count or anything else. That was the beauty of being in the American League for six years in Seattle, is that I never had to make that walk down the bench and tell a guy that's [pitching in a] 2-1 [game] in the eighth that we're going to hit for them."
-- Price, on managing an NL team
• Entering Tuesday, the Reds boasted both the best fielding percentage (.987) and the fewest errors (53) in the NL. The club did not commit any errors in Monday night's loss, but Price was nevertheless frustrated with the overall performance and lack of focus on defense.
"It was an anomaly," Price said. "I don't anticipating this being a trend. But let's at least call it what it was -- it was a poorly played game that I didn't think we were terribly invested in. I have accountability in that, as well. [The Indians] kind of ran wild on the bases, and that's part of my responsibility to control the running game with our pitchers and catchers."
Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.