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I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Billy Hamilton Leads Off - Zack Cozart Off - Second Guessing Starts Now

Both managers are resting key players this late in the season.

The Reds have the playoffs on their individual and collective minds.  The Mets are mostly in salary drives but have the pride to try to play spoiler.

Billy Hamilton is the leadoff hitter and playing centerfield.  Shin-Soo Choo is in leftfield and batting second.  Ryan Ludwick and Zack Cozart are getting the day off.

David Wright the best hitter in the Mets' lineup will be on the bench resting.

Both managers know they may be second guessed by people who have never done their job at all, let alone been as successfully.

Terry Collins, the Mets' manager, has managed for 19 seasons -eight in the major leagues.  Collins has a .528 career winning percentage,  He was the Los Angeles Dodgers director of player development.  He has also managed in Japan.

Dusty Baker played 19 seasons in the Major Leagues, spent five seasons as the batting coach for the San Francisco Giants and the last 20 years as manager.  Coming into Wednesday's game his teams have a .527 winning percentage.

Still fans that think they know the game don't understand why highly paid professional athletes need an occasional day off to stay sharp and contribute.

"I hope that David (Wright) can play at least three of the last four games," Collins said.  "He just got back from an injury.  One thing that's hard for people to understand is how sore your body gets when you're tensed in a defensive position 175 pitches a day."

When asked about Hamilton's present in the lineup, Baker said, "Is there a question about my lineup today?"

"It is everyday," a writer said.  "We had to find out who was batting second, so we could stick up for you on twitter."

"You don't have to stick up for me, man," Baker said.  "I don't read them and I don't care.  I have been doing pretty good for 20 years without them."

"It is fun to argue with them though," the writer said.

"That's fine.  I'll let you do it," Baker said.

"Everybody knows what I should do," Baker said.  "Everybody can do my job.'

"That's because they do it with 20-20 hindsight," Hall of Fame writer Hal McCoy pointed out.

"Or they do it like on a fantasy league," Baker said.  "They can just plug in a reliever.  They don't need time to get loose."

Then Baker explained the lineup.

"You put Hamilton in there to do what he's been doing all his life, run," Baker said.  "Then you hope he can get on base to run.  In the American League, I'd bat him ninth which is double leadoff. Choo can hit any where down in the lineup.  It's no big deal.  Everybody is making a big deal out of it.  It's baseball."

Hamilton has shown that the Major Leagues don't scare him.

"I broke him in, slowly," Baker said.  "I wanted to give him time to work out. I gave him time to feel that he belonged.  The toughest part about being in the big leagues is feeling that you belong.  I didn't just throw him out there."

"The guys on our team have made him feel comfortable.  The guys on the team have accepted him big time," Baker said.  "He's easy to accept.  Some rookies are brash as hell.  You have to spank like once a week."

Choo hit all over the lineup in Cleveland.

"If you can hit, you can hit," Baker said. "It's just don't want to waste Billy Hamilton batting him second.  It is easier for Choo to hit behind Hamilton, than Hamilton to hit behind Choo."

Ludwick has three mult-hit games in the last four.

"I was a little worried about the game before last night.  He was having some trouble.  He is still a little in and out," Baker said.  "He hadn't had enough at-bats. The guy came off a pretty serious operation.  He probably won't be completely back until next season.  He talked to Sean Casey about it in Pittsburgh."

Casey had shoulder surgery.  The next season he hit for average but his extra-base hits were way down.

"Anybody that has had any kind of injury knows.  Sometimes you limp and you're not really hurt anymore but you still protect that area that was injured," Baker said.  "Ludwick is doing pretty good, not as well as he'd like to.  He is hard on himself.  We're hoping today and with tomorrow a day off. He can be ready for the Pirates.  I have interchangeable parts.  I can throw a different game plan on them depending on who is in the lineup."

Cesar Izturis is playing shortstop and batting eighth.

"I have Izturis in there because Cozart has been playing everyday at shortstop.  That's a lot of work," Baker said.  "He's been getting on base.  He's been running the bases. After a hot streak, comes a cold streak because you're fatigued.  You're on the bases a lot.  When you're cold, you're fatigued mentally because all you're doing is making a right turn and go sit down. If I didn't give it to him today, I can't give it to him against the Pirates and then the playoffs.  If I give it to him today, then he gets two days off. I have a little bit of know how."

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