Ask Hal: Baker’s day-game strategy has been mostly successful

Baker’s day-game strategy has been mostly successful

Hall-of-fame baseball writer Hal McCoy knows a thing or two about America’s pastime. If you’d like to tap into that knowledge, send a question to For more Ask Hal, log on to

Q: Why does Dusty Baker continue to use his ‘B’ team on day games after night games after all the disastrous results? — Dave, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: You are only going by the last couple of day games after night games. If you check the entire season the team has won a lot of day games after night games and more often than not the bench player who plays that day contributes mightily. And he doesn’t use a ‘B’ team. He usually only replaces one veteran, sometimes two. It isn’t like a spring training game when pitcher Pete Harnisch once scanned the day’s lineup, filled with minor leaguers, and asked, “Hey, skipper, are we trying today?”

Q: Aroldis Chapman struck out a batter with one out and the ball rolled to the backstop and the hitter was called out and not allowed to run to first base. Why? — Eric, Cleveland.

A: There was a runner on first base. If there is a runner on first and less than two outs a batter cannot run to first on strike three. The shock here is that there was a runner on first against Chapman.

Q: Ken Griffey Jr. will be the next former Reds player to make the Hall of Fame, but is there any chance of Buddy Bell receiving that honor? — Dick, Dayton.

A: Unfortunately, Griffey will go in as a Mariner after doing most of his wonderful deeds in Seattle. While Buddy Bell is a Hall of Fame person, his numbers (.279, 201 homers, 1,106 RBI) won’t earn him a plaque. And he only played three of his 18 years in Cincinnati and would go in as a Texas Ranger.

Q: Why haven’t the Reds retired Joe Nuxhall’s number? — Craig, Fairborn.

A: Nuxy already has a statue, a street named after him, his sign-off phrase, “Round third and head for home,” is emblazoned on the stadium and a microphone emblem on the press box. That’s more honors than most, but his 130-109 record with a 3.80 earned run average — mostly for mediocre teams, certainly merit consideration. Which would it be, though? He wore 39 and 41 during his 15 years with the Reds.

Q: Is this the worst Reds bunting team you have cover because it seems they never get down a bunt when it is needed? — Joe, Hamilton.

A: I’ve never been asked to rate bunts, so I’ve not paid attention to how teams in the past have bunted. It does seem this team treats bunts like deadly snakes and go out of way to avoid it. It is an important aspect of the game, but I’ve never tried to bunt an 88 miles an hour slider, but I know it isn’t as easy as it looks to the guy eating Cheetos in front of the TV.

Q: With Aroldis Chapman so effective as a closer, affecting so many game outcomes, doesn’t it make sense to leave him there instead of moving him to the rotation? — Bob, Bellbrook.

A: I’ve said that since Day One and took a lot of abuse for it. His stuff has closer written all over it and he is THE dominant closer in the game right now. I question whether he can maintain his velocity and his stuff over seven or eight innings and he might be easier to hit if batters see him three or four times a game. And isn’t it nice to have him available four or five times a week to clinch games than to see him only once a week as a starter?

Q: Do you think Jay Bruce is another Edwin Encarnacion and will never be the player the Reds expected him to be? — Steve, Vandalia.

A: Far from it. Bruce has done more each year he has been with the Reds than Encarnacion did his entire time with the Reds. Encarnacion is one-dimensional — the long ball. Defense? Encarnacion thought it was just a place you had to stand between innings before it was time to bat. Bruce is one of baseball’s best right fielders. Yes, he goes into slumps. Yes, he strikes out. But when it clicks in, he can carry the team for a month, which he has done several times. The only thing Encarnacion carried was a scowl on his face.

Q: What are the chances that the Reds winning so many games before the trade deadline actually hurt them in the long run because they were reluctant to add a bat and it is evident they still need one? — John, Vandalia.

A: They will be adding one of the best lefthanded bats in the game very soon. His name is Joey Votto. They were reluctant to add a bat because the cost was too high — other teams wanted to pillage the Reds farm system. That’s what counts in the long run; keep the talent flowing.

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