8/19/2014 7:02 P.M. ET
Reds want Hamilton to pick his spots
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- It may sound counterintuitive, but the Reds feel that if Billy Hamilton attempts fewer steals, he could ultimately be a more successful basestealer.
Hamilton, the Reds' leadoff man and center fielder, has successfully swiped his last three bases -- including one in the ninth inning vs. the Cardinals that led to a tying run in Monday night's 6-5 loss at Busch Stadium -- but he entered Tuesday with only six attempts in August.
"To me, it's the evolution of a basestealer at this level," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Tuesday. "The number of stolen bases is impressive, but we want to cut down on the number of caught stealing. That part of the education is getting a better understanding and taking the better opportunities when they are there, instead of forcing yourself into opportunities that are not there."
Hamilton's 46 steals entering the night were the most for a Reds player since Deion Sanders had 56 in 1997 and eight shy of the club's 105-year-old record for a rookie. In June, Hamilton attempted 20 steals and was caught six times. In July, he had eight steals and was caught four times.
Price and the Reds' coaching staff have noticed pitchers working faster to the plate with extra quick slide-step deliveries to try to prevent Hamilton from bolting from first base.
"Some of these guys are like record-setting slide-step times when he's on base. That's enough of a difference," Price said. "I think those are the things that when you're an outstanding young player, you think you can do about anything. We've tried to be more practical with when he runs."
On Monday, with Trevor Rosenthal pitching, Hamilton walked and stole second base even with a good pitch. He was able to take third on catcher A.J. Pierzynski's throwing error.
"He was able to force a bad throw and steal a base," Price said.
Holmberg coming back to start on Thursday
ST. LOUIS -- Reds manager Bryan Price confirmed Tuesday that left-hander David Holmberg will be recalled from Triple-A Louisville to start Thursday against the Braves. Cincinnati was short a starter because Homer Bailey is on the disabled list and they used two starting pitchers in Sunday's doubleheader vs. the Rockies.
Holmberg, the Reds' No. 10 prospect, was scratched by Louisville on Monday. He is 1-6 with a 4.64 ERA in 17 starts for the Bats. Over his last 12 starts, his ERA is 3.12.
In Game 2 of a doubleheader for the Reds vs. the Cubs on July 8, Holmberg was called up and didn't fare well. He allowed five earned runs on seven hits, including three homers, and three walks over 2 2/3 innings in a no-decision before a Cincinnati win.
"He was behind a lot and in some bad counts and the Cubs took advantage of it. He made some location mistakes," Price said. "Young guys trying to establish themselves sometimes tend to get out of character. I certainly don't think we saw the best he has to offer, by any means, in that one start."
Negron's playing time cut by Phillips' return
ST. LOUIS -- Utility man Kristopher Negron has been one of the more productive hitters among the often offensively struggling Reds. But with Brandon Phillips back from the disabled list, playing time for Negron will come less often.
"The dynamics of how we use the roster with Brandon here now is definitely going to change the look. Our fairly regular lineup is going to be more solidified," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Tuesday.
The Reds have shown 99 different lineups this season, not counting the pitcher, and that made Tuesday a rarity since they had the same lineup as Monday night's game. Negron, who was batting .284 since coming up from Triple-A Louisville July 10 after Phillips was injured, is 8-for-20 in his last six games.
Price all but ruled out using Negron in the left-field-platoon mix that already features Ryan Ludwick, Skip Schumaker and Chris Heisey.
"It's not off the table of consideration," Price said. "It's hard to realistically try to force-feed a fourth guy into that mix there to play left."
Shortstop seems less likely with Zack Cozart the starter and Ramon Santiago the primary backup. The best chances for Negron to play could come on days when Brayan Pena catches, which would have Price put third baseman Todd Frazier at first base. That could give third base to Negron.
"Kris gives us another quality bench bat," Price said. "I think he's going to do a nice job when he gets starts. He can pinch-run, steal a base, get a bunt down, hit and run. He can do a lot of good things for us."
Negron, who keeps a total of four gloves at the ready for all three outfield spots and three infield positions, works in both areas during batting practice.
"Between here and Triple-A, I've been ready to play any position at any time," Negron said. "I adapted to it a lot in Spring Training when I came off the bench a lot in the late innings to play defense and get an at-bat. It doesn't bother me."