By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — There was a rare and unusual occurrence Tuesday night in Great American Ball Park. There were no scouts in attendance, not a single one. No radar speed guns, no clipboards, no miniature laptops, no lies told to each other at a media dining room table.
And that’s understandable. For now, all the dealin’ is done, all the trades are made, and there is no need for Major League scouts to be here.
A couple of weeks before Monday’s trade deadline, there were as many as 20 scouts from different teams, charting the pros and cons of Jay Bruce and Zack Cozart.
The missing scouts missed out on a coming-out party displayed by Cincinnati Reds left fielder Scott Schebler.
SCOTT SCHEBLER? LEFT FIELDER? Yep, after Bruce was traded, Schebler was recalled from Class AAAA Louisville and installed in left field and it resulted in him crushing a thee-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Reds a 7-5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Reds special advisor Lou Piniella was in a private box when Schebler connected and afterward he said, “My gosh, when that kid hit that ball it sounded like a cherry bomb went off.”
St. Louis closer Sueng Hwan Oh came into the game in the eighth inning with the bases loaded and no outs, his team leading, 5-4. He struck out Billy Hamilton and coaxed a double play ground ball from Ivan DeJesus Jr. to excape unscathed
NOW HE WAS BACK OUT for the ninth and Joey Votto hit the first pitch for his fourth hit of the night, pushing his average to .293. Adam Duvall, who earlier in the game hit a two-run home run to give the Reds a 4-3 lead, ripped a 2-and-2 single to left. After Oh retired Brandon Phillips, Schebler stepped in and delivered, a special delivery moon shot down the right field line.
Told what Piniella said about the cherry bomb, Schebler smiled and said, “He has been around the game a long time and for him to say that is something pretty special.”
When Schebler connected, he stood at home late for a moment, but he wasn’t styling or hot dogjging or posing.
“I didn’t know if it was going to stay fair, so I stood there longer than I wanted,” he said. “It stayed fair. That guy is tough (Oh) and I didn’t see the first pitch too well. But he threw me another fastball and another fastball and I adjusted. I’ve never hit a ball that hard and that far that felt that good. That’s as good as it gets right there.”
WHILE COZART HAD A CLOSE call with a possible trade to Seattle that didn’t materialize, Bruce is gone, now a member of the New York Mets, the first player who led the league in RBI ever to be traded during the season.
About the Bruce trade, most players were being politically correct in their responses, with Zack Cozart saying, among many complimentary things about Bruce, “It’s the business of baseball and the business sucks.”
But leave it up to pitcher Homer Bailey, a guy who talks as straight as she shoots his arrows with a crossbow, to say,
“Unless this guy (Herrera) turns out to be Robinson Cano, I’d say they (the Mets) got the better of the deal.”
BRUCE’S ABSENCE FORCED THE Reds to make some moves and that’s exactly what they did.
Manager Bryan Price shifted left fielder Adam Duvall to right field and install Scott Schebler in left field. Schebler, the International League’s Player of the Month for July, was recalled from Class AAA Louisville.
Duvall and Schebler shared left field, a platoon situation, early in the season. But Duvall took charge, grabbed most of the playing time, and Schebler was dispatched to Louisville to get his act in line.
“Schebler will play left field now and Duvall will play right,” said Price. “Scott was a guy who was targeted in the trade (involving Todd Frazier) that also got us Jose Peraza. We felt like Schebler was a guy who could be an every day player. What he did, to his credit, was to go down to Triple-A and just hit, hit like crazy. And he played a real good defense in left field and in center field.”
SCHEBLER WAS HITTING .188 when the Reds sent him back to Louisville, then in 70 games there he hit .311/.370/.564 with 13 homers, 18 doubles and 43 RBI.
“He has been a guy who has collected a lot of extra base hits and plays with a lot of heart and hustle,” said Price. “He has earned the right through his Triple-A performance to come up here and get at-bats. I don’t want him to press to perform, I just want him to go out there and perform as he did in Triple-A and get accustomed to big league pitching and the big league environment.”
Schebler warmed up Tuesday night with a pair of singles in his first three at bats before furnishing the game-ending cherry bomb.
“My first time around (earlier this season when he hit .188) was pretty humbling,” he said. “I’ve never struggled like that before. It felt like I was slowly working my way out of it, then to get sent down. . .well, hopefully I’m better for it. It was very humbling the first time around.
“It was one of those deals where I came over (from the Dodgers) and was trying to impress everybody,” he said. “Now that I went down there (to Louisbville) and had success, I’m more comfortable in my own skin. I don’t have to impress everybody.”
ON THE OTHER SIDE, the Reds sent infielder/outfieler Jose Peraza back to Louisville the day after he hit a two-run game-winning home run in the Reds’ 3-2 win over San Diego on Sunday. Congratulations, kid. Here’s your ticket to Louisville.
“It was hard to justify keeping a player that we see as a major league player only getting a start one or two times a week and maybe a couple of pinchk-hit at bats,” said Price. How about this? If it is really a rebuild situation why not bench Brandon Phillips, not part of the future and play Peraza at second base?
“We have other guys here more defined as bench players and he is not one of those,” said Price. “Long-term he going to play every day.” Why not now?
PRICE SAID BY PLAYING in Louisville Peraza can get acclimated with playing with second baseman Dilson Herrera, one of the two players acquired in the Jay Bruce trade, “Because those are two long-term players here in this organization we think it beneficial to have them playing together, getting acclimated with each other. When that opportunity comes to play every day they’ll be up here.”
Peraza played left field Sunday and has played there several times as Price struggled to find him playing time for him.
“He probably felt like he could go out there and play left field regularly for us right now, however, we think Schebler should be out there playing regularly and Jose will get his opportunity if he continues to play well in Triple-A,” said Price. “I see him more as a middle infielder than I do as an outfielder. He could have been plugged in to play the outfield but the long-term looks brighter for him as a middle infielder.”
And there was another move. Another second baseman, Tony Renda, was brought up from Louisville. Renda, 25, was part of the Aroldis Chapman deal with the New York Yankees. He began this season at Class AA Pensacola and hit .311. He was promoted to Louisville and in 23 games he hit .280/.314/.366 with one homer, two doubles and seven RBI.
“Renda runs well and plays with a lot of energy,” said Price. “It will be nice to have him and Tyler Holt on the bench because they both bring a lot of life and energy. Our scouts feel Tony can handle coming off the bench to give us quality at bats. He won’t get a lot of starts unless somebody gets hurt, so I told him to take advantage of the time to learn from the guys used to coming off the bench.”