Cozart thrives at the Friendly Confines

Cozart thrives at the Friendly Confines

CHICAGO -- As spring warms into summer, the non-waiver Trade Deadline gossip will pick up steam and Major League scouts could be jotting notes. Perhaps some will be making calls to front offices about Reds shortstop Zack Cozart.

Cozart seems to do some of his best work at Wrigley Field, and that was no exception during his 3-for-5 game in a 7-5 loss to the Cubs on Wednesday. He hit a home run in his fifth consecutive game at the Friendly Confines, something accomplished only eight times by seven players. The last to do it was the Astros' Carlos Beltran in 2004. No one has ever homered in six straight games at the historic ballpark.

"These past two games are the first time, honestly, since I've been playing with the Reds that I've played with the wind blowing out like it has," Cozart said. "Usually, it's the opposite. That makes it a little easier. I don't know what it is. I'm just trying to get a good pitch to hit."

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As he did on Tuesday, Cozart took advantage of a stiff breeze blowing out. Leading off the top of the third inning against Kyle Hendricks, Cozart reached outside on a 1-2 changeup and lofted it high in the air to left field.

The wind, reported to be 24 mph at the game's start, did the rest of the work, carrying the ball into the bleachers.

"[Hendricks] just left it up a little bit. And if you hit a fly ball in this wind, it's going to go," said Cozart, who has hits in nine straight games at Wrigley Field. "I knew when I hit it, I was like, 'It's got a good chance,' even though I didn't hit it great."

According to Statcast™, the ball had an exit velocity of 90.9 mph and a launch angle of 36 degrees. That combination gave it a 5 percent hit probability, the third-lowest hit probability on a homer this season. It also was the first home run of the Statcast™ Era (2015-17) to have the combination of a 91-mph exit velocity and 36-degree launch angle.

"The only bad pitch I made was to Cozart, the homer pitch. It was a changeup that I pulled," said Hendricks, who said he was supposed to bring the pitch inside.

Cozart has hits in 10 of his last 11 games and is batting .378 with three home runs. Overall, he is batting .350/.437/.608 with four homers and 17 RBIs.

In this past offseason, prior to Cozart's final season before becoming a free agent, trade talks about him were cool because of a lack of demand for shortstops, and there hasn't been much in the way of glaring need since the season opened. J.J. Hardy is struggling at the plate for the Orioles, but Baltimore has not been connected to Cozart -- or any shortstops -- as of yet.

"[Cozart's] been doing great. He's had a terrific first quarter of the season in every way possible," manager Bryan Price said.

The Reds, despite having dropped five straight games, have been surprisingly competitive, hovering at or above .500 for most of the first six weeks of the season. General manager Dick Williams has shown a willingness to be opportunistic and strike when a player's value is high.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.