Schu fits: Price thrilled with offseason acquisition

Schu fits: Price thrilled with offseason acquisition

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- There were multiple reasons the Reds signed free-agent utility player Skip Schumaker in the offseason. While there was a desire to improve the bench, they were also looking for a player who could improve the team's chemistry.

Through the early portion of Spring Training, manager Bryan Price has been impressed with Schumaker on both fronts.

"Watching Skip Schumaker play, I enjoy every minute of it -- from his defense, his defensive positioning, his talk and his movement in the outfield, his communication in the infield," Price said on Friday. "That base hit he had on [Dodgers reliever] Paco Rodriguez [Wednesday] -- hanging in on a tough lefty that creates an angle with his fastball and breaking ball -- he's just a tough kid."

Through six games this spring, Schumaker is batting .500 (6-for-12), with three RBIs. He was 0-for-2 with a walk in Friday's 4-3 loss to the White Sox.

Schumaker, 34, was signed to a two-year, $5 million contract with the Reds in November. Price was asked if there was a way to quantify the merits of having a player who brings intangibles to a team.

"This is where the debate of statistical analysis and defining somebody's character, and what their style of play brings to a club, might not show up in a statistical report," Price said. "I think both evaluation styles have value. What does his work ethic, what does his style of play tell the guys around him? It sets a tone on what selflessness looks like. He's that type of guy. He's talented.

"This isn't like a guy who doesn't have any skills who wills his way to be good. This is a guy who has skills, but he knows how to utilize them. He's very productive for a guy who doesn't have gaudy numbers."

Without gaudy numbers, how is a player like Schumaker measured?

"I think it's as far as moving outfielders, as far as a defensive standpoint, as far as advancing runners, as far as taking an inside pitch for an HBP, finding a way to hang in on that left-hander to lead off an inning with a base hit.

"I think he makes the people around him better. That's the best way to state it for a guy who most of his career has been a bench player or platoon player."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for 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.