Dusty stresses thought process of RBI men

Dusty stresses thought process of RBI men

CINCINNATI -- Driving home runners in scoring position has been a Reds weakness much of the season. They entered Sunday 11th out of 16 National League teams with a .228 average with runners in scoring position.

Teaching hitters how to handle those situations has been an ongoing process, especially for a Reds team with many younger hitters.

"You have to get to a level of relaxation and comfort first, that's No. 1," Reds manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. "You have to realize that the pitcher is in trouble and not you. Everybody didn't come up knowing.

"I remember having sessions with Orlando Cepeda, Hank Aaron and a real good session with Tony Perez about how to drive in runs -- what to look for, pitches to stay off, where to zone him, in and out or up and down, the repertoire of the pitchers, what you need and what he's trying to do to you. Sometimes he's trying to strike you out. Sometimes, he doesn't mind popping you up or getting a fly ball with two outs. In a double-play situation, they're trying to make you hit the ball on the ground."

In the previous three games, Cincinnati left 28 runners stranded on base. Only one player, Joey Votto with 38 RBIs, is ranked the top 10 in that category in the league, although Jay Bruce is right behind Votto with 37 RBIs.

"Over the years since I've been here, I've tried to tell the guys the same thing that was told to me. The RBI man is a big man," Baker said. "Everybody talks about on-base percentage, which is important. But even more important is when you get them out there, how many RBI men are around?

"You have to have a theory, a plan and a thought process if you're going to be a true RBI man."