Baker questions the second-guessers


Dusty Baker is used to being second-guessed. It’s part of the job. He has thousands of volunteer assistant coaches sitting on couches across Reds country, whether he wants them or not.

Even The Onion, the satirical newspaper, got in on the act Tuesday with a headline titled, “Dusty Baker accidentally leaves Aroldis Chapman warming up in the bullpen overnight.”

Baker was asked before Tuesday’s game against the Phillies about his thoughts on the situation Monday night when he left in Bronson Arroyo to pitch to Chase Utley with two outs in the eighth. Utley tied the game with a two-run home run, and some fans thought Baker should have summoned Aroldis Chapman to pitch to Utley.

Chapman hasn’t given up a run in seven appearances, and he earned his third save by pitching a perfect ninth after Brandon Phillips’ two-run single gave the Reds a 4-2 lead in the eighth.

“When do you warm him up?” Baker asked. “Do you warm him up to start the eighth? Because that’s what you’re going to have to do to have him ready by the end of the night. It’s easy to say you should have someone lose, but you’ll tire your bullpen out before the end of the game.”

Baker said it’s not easy to know when to take out Arroyo. He had thrown 7 2/3 scoreless innings at that point.

“Sometimes he’ll give it up. Sometimes he won’t,” Baker said. “If you leave him in there and he gives it up, then it’s, ‘Why didn’t you take him out?’ If you take him out and the next guy gives it up, then it’s, ‘Why didn’t you leave him in there?’ ”

Cleaning up: Phillips leads the Reds and ranks fourth in the majors with 16 RBIs. Batting cleanup, he’s hitting .340 with five doubles and four home runs.

Joey Votto deserves some credit for Phillips’ RBI total because he’s getting on base more than half the time. Batting third, Votto is hitting .317 with a .556 on-base percentage. Votto has walked 21 times, 10 more than anyone else in baseball.

Phillips was especially pleased to come through Monday in the eighth, not only because the game was on ESPN and he enjoys the spotlight, but because the Phillies walked him to get to Votto.

“You’re kind of embarrassed,” Phillips said. “I just had a chip on my shoulder there. I’m glad I came through.”

Phillips was the logical choice to bat fourth when Ryan Ludwick hurt his shoulder on Opening Day, Baker said, because he doesn’t strike out that often, he’s hit cleanup before and he has improved his ability to keep the ball off the ground and not hit into double plays.

“I wasn’t worried about him,” Baker said. “I had a lot of people telling me it should be (Todd) Frazier, or it should be this guy and not Brandon. I think I know more than most of those people telling me what to do.”

Hot and not: Center fielder Shin-Soo Choo and Votto both reached base safely in the first 13 games. Choo leads Reds starters with a .353 average, and his .476 on-base percentage ranks fourth in baseball.

Catcher Ryan Hanigan’s struggles continue, however. He was hitting .063 after Monday’s game with two hits in 32 at-bats.

Frazier, who hit close to .500 on the first homestand, has two hits in his last 23 at-bats. He’s hitting .298 and ranks second on the team with 11 RBIs.


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