By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — One needs to go back a couple of generations to remember the Ivory commercials in which they insisted, “Ivory soap is 99 and 44/100ths percent pure.”
Despite the facts that say Eugenio Suarez is torrid at the plate these days, the Cincinnati Reds third baseman insists, “I’m not 100 per cent, I don’t feel 100 per cent.”
That’s because Suarez believes he never feels 100 per cent and adds, “I never want to feel 100 percent. When I feel like that I start doing too many different things. I like to feel like I feel right now.”
And how does he feel right? “I say 99.9 per cent,” he answered with a smile.
“My more important goal is just to help the team, y’know? I just try to produce and help the other hitters by being on base and running the bases.”
He is giving his team heaps of help these days. He leads the Reds in homers (12) and RBI (26). On the just-completed 3-and-3 trip he hit .385 with four doubles, two home runs, three RBI and seven runs scored.
“No, I don’t like to talk about my swing or talk about how I feel,” added the 27-year-old Venezuelan. “I just say I feel better and try to do what I do every time.”
Suarez also takes the simple approach when he occupies the batter’s box. Back when Hall of Famer Tony Perez was the Reds hitting coach, his philosophy was simple as ABC and 123. He would tell hitters, “See the ball, hit the ball.”
Suarez never interacted with Perez but he said his approach is the same. He doesn’t worry about where his elbow is or where his feet are or how much he swivels his hips. Like Perez, his methodology is, “See the ball, hit the ball. That’s the goal. If you don’t see the ball, you are not going to hit it. It is hard to hit the ball when you can’t see it. That’s it. Keep your head in and see the ball.”
And hit it the way Suarez does. Geno, as his teammates call him, is one of several players the Reds acquired for nothing much more than a spool of electrician’s tape and a few wrist bands.
With zero fanfare, Suarez was acquired from the Detroit Tigers for pitcher Alfredo Simon. He was a shortstop and the Reds converted him to third base, where he was a work in progress for a year and now is a near-complete subject.
Ironically, the Reds also stole shortstop Jose Iglesias from the Detroit Tigers when the Tigers dumped him. Iglesias is as smooth as skim milk at shortstop. And there is Scooter Gennett, Derek Dietrich, Jared Hughes, David Hernandez, Curt Casali — all acquired quietly and with minimal cost.
Suarez is fast becoming a leader, especially when it comes to hair color. He dyed his hair blond last year and wore it proudly. In the last two week he has two converts.
Jose Peraza said if he he had two hits and two RBI in a game, he’d dye his hair blond. He did and he did. Then Yasiel Puig said if he had two hits and two RBI in a game, he’d dye his hair blond. He did and he did.
“They love my hair and they try to copy me,” said Suarez. “I’m trying to get Jose Iglesias to do it.”
It was like when people complained about the heavy drinking of Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War. In answer, President Abraham Lincoln allegedly said, “Find out what brand he drinks and I’ll get it for all my generals.”
Suarez can guide teammates to the nearest bleach bottle.
THERE HAS BEEN SO much moaning and complaining by the fans and media, and even the players, about how few home games the Reds have played so far this year.
Before Tuesday’s game, the Reds had played only 17 home games. In truth, that isn’t so much different from several other teams. The New York Mets have played only 17 games at Citi Field.
Boston has played only 18 in Fenway Park, Detroit 18 in Comerica, Pittsburgh 18 in PNC, Washington 18 in Nationals Park and five teams have played only 19 at home.
What must be remembered is that everybody plays 81 at home and 81 on the road, except the Reds lost two home games when they played in Monterrey, Mexico. And isn’t it better to play more home games later in the season?