By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — Adam Duvall entered Saturday night’s game carrying a light number to home plate, a .167 batting average, an average that most pitchers wouldn’t like to talk about.
Duvall hit a home run to the opposite field Friday night and hopes that might jump-start him to better things. At this point, he grasps at any straw, even a short straw.
“Yeah, yeah, it just felt good to barrel up a ball,” said Duvall, referring to his home run. “I hope hitting it to the opposite field is good because I haven’t been able to drive the ball the other way. Being able to do that is a good sign.
“All I can do right now is keep working hard and figure out what’s going on,” he said. “Things keep giving me fits and I keep trying to iron them out. And it doesn’t help that the team has struggled.”
Manager Jim Riggleman notices that pitchers are approaching Duvall in a different manner this season than last.
“Last year Duvall did a lot of damage on two-strike breaking balls,” said Riggleman. “Pitchers would work him and then like, ‘Here’s a big strong guy, so I’ll try trick him with breaking ball.’ They made a lot of mistakes and he hit a lot of two-strike breaking balls out of the park last year.
“You get the league’s attention when you do that,” Riggleman added. “They make an adjustment. Now Adam has to go through that period where he adjusts to what they are doing to him.
“We feel like, yeah, he is struggling, but he does have five homers which projects close to 30 again,” said Riggleman. “But he is not there yet, but he can do a lot of damage for us.”
Asked how he tries not to do too much while trying to slink out of the slump, he smiled and said, “I don’t know how to answer that? You can’t get two hits in one at bat so you just trust that you put the work in and hope you come around.”
He isn’t sure why the hits aren’t falling and said, “It is kind of a feeling thing, getting comfortable. I’m starting to see the ball and feel the ball off the bat a little different.”
ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT jobs in baseball is pinch-hitting, to sit on the bench most of the game and then be asked to go up and face a tough relief pitchers. It is even tougher for a young player with no experience at pinch-hitting
That certainly doesn’t bother Jesse Winker. He is 4 for 5 this year as a pinch-hitter.
“He always has good at bats, whether he is playing or pinch-hitting,” said Riggleman.
THERE WERE NO OUTS and two runners on base Friday night in the eighth inning with Jared Hughes on the mound. His specialty is a sinker that induces ground balls. Sure enough, Miami’s J.T. Realmuto hit into a double play. And Hughes, in celebratory mood, sprinted toward the dugout and actually crossed the first base line.
Oops! Only two outs. The inning wasn’t over. He returned red-faced to the mound and ended the inning by striking out Starlin Castro.
“I’m very forgetful,” he said with a sly grin. “That’s why I write everything down. And believe me, I’ve heard about it several times in the clubhouse today.”
A COUPLE OF STARTS AGO, pitcher Sal Romano struck out his bare pitching hand and snagged a ground ball. It is a huge risk for a pitcher to do that, plus it stung. After the game, Romano said, “That’s just reaction and instinct. But I won’t do it again.”
Fast forward to Friday night. Miami pitcher Wei-Yin Chen barreled one up and smoked it through the middle. Romano stuck up his bare hand and stopped that one, too.
When reminded that he said he wouldn’t do that any more because they give out Gold Gloves not Gold Hands, he shook his head and said, “Yeah, I know. It me right below the middle finger. It’s fine, a little swollen. I just have to stop doing it. This one hurt me more off to the side of the hand. This one hurt a little more.”
STAT TO PONDER (Pointed out by Gary Schatz): Joey Votto has walked 1,020 times in his career, meaning he has trotted a total of 91,800 feet or 17 1/2 miles to first base.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Homer Bailey, after watching a replay of Albert Pujols’ bloop single for his 3,00th hit: “What jackass writer is not going to vote Albert Pujols for the Hall of Fame on the first ballot?”
It was a reference to the fact that no player has ever received every vote, including Ken Griffey Jr. when three writers left him off the ballot.