CHICAGO -- The Reds' two most struggling players -- Adam Dunn and Edwin Encarnacion -- aren't hitting, but they sure are drawing a lot of walks. Dunn entered Wednesday with a team-leading 16 walks -- and drew his 17th on his first at-bat -- and Encarnacion was second with 10. Both were hitting below .200. Dunn regularly bats fifth, ahead of Encarnacion, who bats sixth. Is it time to split them up to give Dunn more protection? Even while his team has struggled for offense, manager Dusty Baker says no.
"With our situation here, it's not easy to flip-flop this lineup without having too many lefties in a row, or you want somebody that can run in front of this guy or that guy," Baker said. "A lot of it falls on Eddie. As Eddie goes, we're going to go. I'll try to stick with this for a while. Hopefully, some of the guys come out of it." Dunn started Wednesday batting .162, but was 2-for-3 during the Reds' 12-3 loss to the Cubs. In the seventh, he lined a double to right field. In the eighth inning against reliever Kevin Hart, he scorched a home run beyond the right-field bleachers at Wrigley Field and onto Sheffield Ave. His average inched up to an even .200. In many situations, pitchers don't feel obligated to give Dunn anything good to hit because Encarnacion was hitting all of .186 with two homers and six RBIs. Encarnacion went 2-for-4 in Wednesday's loss. "I remember Hank Aaron used to tell me I was his protection, which wasn't very much protection," Baker said. "He told me to just hit some singles and doubles and that would stop them from walking him." Just because Baker is staying with his regular lineup doesn't mean the wheels aren't constantly turning. There's no bad time for the mental light bulb to kick on, even when the lights are out at home. "In the middle of the night, I have a pad and a piece of paper next to the bed, always," Baker said. "My wife gets on me for turning the light on. I'm a note taker. I've learned to write with a flashlight."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.