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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.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Playoff Clinch Brings More Questions Than Answers For Reds

The Reds clinched a playoff spot on Monday night by defeating the New York Mets  3-2 and watching the last out in the St. Louis Cardinals' win over the Washington Nationals.

The five National League playoff teams are within 2-1/2 games of each other.

The Reds could even end up with the best record in baseball, not only escaping the one-game wild card playoff game but earning the home field advantage in every round.

Dusty Baker, Walt Jocketty and the coaching staff will have to pare the roster from the current 35 active players to 25.  Adjustments are allowed after each round.

Johnny Cueto's status is one of the mysteries the baseball staff will need to solve.  Another is the inclusion or exclusion of base-stealing phenom Billy Hamilton.

Run Billy Run T-shirts are seen throughout the Great American Ball Park crowd but do the Reds have the luxury of using the player with an exceptional talent but unproven in other facets of the game?

"We will let you know on Cueto," Baker said while acknowledging he could start in the postseason.  "We've talked about Billy (Hamilton).  We haven't decided yet.  There are a lot of variables."

Among the variables are who to leave off.  If Cueto starts, does Tony Cingrani get left out assuming he is healthy to begin with?  If Hamilton is on the roster, does Xavier Paul, who has been a valuable pinch hitter, watch from the sidelines?

"Billy is the topic of the day.  They're selling t-shirts up there but that's not the focal point," Baker said. "Where we're going Billy is a possible part of it. Who do you delete to take his place? Is he ready to start a game or come off the bench and get some hits you might need? There's a lot of factors here."

Baker lobbied to bring Hamilton up from Triple-A Louisville.  The 23-year old was not on the 40-man roster.  Hamilton used the 2013 season to transition from shortstop to centerfield.  He also was in the first year of an experiment to teach the natural right-handed batter to switch hit.  It was a lot to learn quickly.

"He's a fine young man," Baker said.  "I don't think he's in awe of this or anything.  He reminds me of Willie McGee.  When he (McGee) was a rookie, he was MVP of a World Series."

The speedster with 13 stolen bases in 13 attempts is also hitting .429 with two doubles.  He hit .256 at Louisville.

"Hamilton has hit higher here than he did at Triple-A and Double-A.  It doesn't make sense sometimes," Baker said.  "He's paid attention.  He made some changes.  He's learning a lot. I told him not to fool around.  It is easy to fool around when you're a kid.  He's done well."

Cueto has had two good starts after coming off the disabled list three times with lat and oblique problems.

"The other guys have pitched great but Johnny was the man," Baker said. "Nothing against anyone else, but just Johnny has a longer and greater track record. So it was just a matter of (building) endurance."

Professionally edited by ML Schirmer
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