CHICAGO -- One glance at the Reds' roster and it's clear something is missing: right-handed pop. Norris Hopper, Ryan Freel and Juan Castro are the right-handed portion of the Reds bench. Between them last season, they hit three home runs -- all by Freel. Backup catcher Javier Valentin is a switch-hitter, but much better at hitting left-handed. About wanting a right-handed bat, Reds manager Dusty Baker said little -- but it spoke volumes.
"Good question," Baker said while cracking a wide smile. "Pittsburgh was pretty evident of that. We've talked about it many times." Internet rumors surfaced on Tuesday that the Reds were pursuing free agent Mike Piazza to fill that right-handed void. All indications were that the report was false and there have been no talks between the two sides. Entering Tuesday's action, the Reds were batting .216 vs. left-handed hitters and .269 against right-handers. They are 1-3 vs. left-handed starters this season and were 23-36 vs. lefty starters last season. Swept three games by the Pirates last weekend, Reds hitters were 6-for-35 (.171) with runners in scoring position and stranded 32 runners on base. There were no Cincinnati home runs and two of the three losses were by one run. Right-handed bats at Triple-A Louisville are possible options, too. Jolbert Cabrera, who had a good Spring Training for Cincinnati, is batting .343 for Louisville this season. Another non-roster camp invite, Jerry Hairston Jr., is batting .421 for the Bats.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.