Baker wants hitters to drive up foes' pitch count

Baker wants hitters to drive up foes' pitch count

ST. LOUIS -- During Sunday's 6-3 win over the Nationals, the Reds were successful at running ace Stephen Strasburg's pitch count up early. Strasburg lasted only 5 1/3 innings and threw 114 pitches.

Many starting pitchers aren't as stretched out yet to go deeper in games, and Reds manager Dusty Baker wants his hitters to exploit that fact.

"Early in the year, if you have a high pitch inning, just one of them, that does you in for one or two at-bats," Baker said on Monday. "That's why I urge my hitters, especially in the day of the pitch count, to be as many tough, foul-them-off at-bats as you can. Even if they strike out, at least you're taking 10-12 pitches out of the guy. That's equivalent to almost a whole inning from one person."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.