Staying with Scooter pays off for Reds

Manager leaves Gennett in to face tough lefty and is rewarded

Staying with Scooter pays off for Reds

CINCINNATI -- Not even for a moment did Reds manager Bryan Price contemplate lifting Scooter Gennett for a right-handed pinch-hitter.

In the eighth inning with the bases loaded, two outs and the Reds trailing by one run on Thursday, the Padres had All-Star left-handed closer Brad Hand on the mound. Hand was riding a 24-inning streak without allowing a run and has filthy stuff. But Gennett hit the grand slam to right-center field that propelled the Reds to a 10-3 victory.

"You guys have probably seen I don't pinch-hit a lot for the regulars, unless there is an extended period of time where we see there's bad matchups," Price said. "I like the guys to be in those situations. He's been a big-time player for us. He's been a clutch guy for us. I felt, 'You know what? If he makes a mistake, he's going to get him.' And he did."

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On the other hand, Price wouldn't have been faulted for going by the book if he batted for his second baseman. He had hot-hitting Jose Peraza on the bench, as well as Devin Mesoraco. This season, Gennett came in as a .203 hitter vs. lefties while batting .315 vs. right-handers. Over his career, it was .190 vs. left-handers and .297 against righties.

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Gennett was also batting .136 (3-for-22) in his previous six games.

"He seems like the type of manager that if you're starting that day, he's going to roll with what he's got, which is great. Playing for a manager like that, it just gives you more confidence," Gennett said. "At the start of the year, I'd been in the habit of kind of peeking over my shoulder whenever they bring in that lefty, because the Brewers would usually take me out. I think that's why I struggled so much with the Brewers facing lefties, because I never really had the opportunity to."

Gennett felt that by facing more lefties, especially relievers later in games, he has learned how to make the necessary adjustments. Now he tries to go with pitches and hit the ball to the middle-or-opposite field.

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"Because there's that angle coming in," he said. "With a righty, if he starts in I'm going to try to pull it. A lefty, that ball's kind of going away from you. If you see it in, you can't give in and try to pull it because it's moving away from you. Now I'm just trying to stay middle-away with it. If it is in, I can still get to it. If not, I still have the ability to stay on the ball."

Against Hand, Gennett received a first-pitch slider that started inside and tailed back out over the plate. It was lifted for the third grand slam of his career, and also helped Cincinnati take three of four games from San Diego.

"What he did was he didn't miss the one pitch he may have had the entire at-bat to hit. And he hit it out of the ballpark," Price said. "Big moment."

Gennett felt that he never let his mini-slump get the best of him over the past week.

"The biggest thing is not to get frustrated and not let your emotions take over and end up giving at-bats away and swinging at bad pitches and kind of make that slump even worse," Gennett said.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com 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.