By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — Scooter Gennett’s teammates can’t wait for the day the diminutive second baseman walks into the clubhouse and sees his name on the lineup card.
And that isn’t just because the Cincinnati Reds can use his offensive production. Oh, no. It is because Gennett has so much nervous energy that his fidgeting and his needling and his chatter is a constant clubhouse presence.
For example, earlier this week Derek Dietrich hit three home runs in one game against Pittsburgh. As Dietrich conducted a post-game interview near his locker, Gennett walked by and said loudly, “Anybody can hit three home runs in a game.”
The remark was backed by the fact Gennett hit four home runs in a game last season. When he reached his own corner of the clubhouse, Gennett said softly, “I hope Derek hits five home runs in a game.”
The question remains — it is now June and Gennett still has not taken a single at bat and when might that happen.
The conservation estimate by manager David Bell is, “Two to three weeks before he can play in a game and that would be on a (minor league) rehab assignment.
Gennett has been doing a few minor baseball things on the field, including taking some ground balls.
“We haven’t talked to Scooter yet and we’re trying to figure out a plan for when we got on the road next week,” said Bell. “Should he go on the road with us next week or go someplace else? We need to do what’s best for him. He is a getting close to going somewhere on rehab.”
Bell said Gennett is looking good at the things he is doing and added, “Taking ground balls regularly is probably the last step. I know he is taking them ut he needs to reach a certain level of confidence that everything is fine.”
Gennett has not run the bases and Bell said that test is coming soon, for sure before he plays a game.
When Gennett begins rehab in the minors, Bell believes it will be a cameo appearance.
“We will make sure he plays enough games, but with his level of confidence in his offense we are not going to make him stay long. We’re anxious to get him back, but we have to find that sweet spot of what the right amount of games will be. It will go pretty quick.”
That is the next question, a question fans keep asking, even though it is still down the road. There is the issue of what to do when Gennett returns to his second base position. What happens to Derek Dietrich? What happens to Jose Peraza?
“Yeah, but I wouldn’t call it an issue,” said Bell, knowing that every healthy and productive body is a positive. “Obviously Scooter is going to be playing. But at the same time Dietrich has become a big part of our offense.
“The good thing with Derek is that he can play other positions like the outfield and third base and first base. We haven’t seen him play much third and outfield, but there will be ways to make it happen,” Bell added. “We’ll have to because the way Derek is swinging the bat has made him a big part of the offense.”
Even without Gennett, Bell has been a master manipulator of the lineup and batting order, utilizing his roster to the fullest intent.
He said it is something he learned by watching Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon. A season ago Maddon finagled his lineup so much that 10 players had more than 400 plate appearances.
“Being in the same division over the last four or five years, I’ve watched Joe Maddon and what he does with his team,” said Bell. “That helped me realize how possible that is to get more than a regular eight guys, to have 10 every day players. It is a trend in today’s game and also is important in keeping guys healthy and to maximize your lineup each day.
“It makes a lot of sense. It really does and I like that. I like having the versatility and it works itself out even if a guy plays six out of seven days. There are ways to make it happen.”
And Bell makes it happen.
BELL WAS FINED AN undisclosed amount by MLB for his inflammatory comments to the media after the Pittsburgh Pirates hit Eugenio Suarez with a pitch.
On Saturday afternoon he showed up for his daily media briefing with his face looking as if he and Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle had a face-scratching, hair-pulling disagreement under the stands.
“Yeah, I look like I got beat up,” he said. “I went to the dermatologist to have some stuff taken off my face.”
ONE OF THE SCARIEST specimens wearing a Washington Nationals uniform is that of first baseman Matt Adams, a guy who loves Great American Ball Park so much his nickname around GABP is Mount Adams.
When Bell was a bench coach in St. Louis former Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, Adams played there and was a Bell favorite.
“He likes it here,” said Bell. “He is one of the nicest guys in the game. He’s great. I’m going to have to say hello to him.”
Adams was not known as Mount Adams in St. Louis. He was Patch Adams, taken from the 1998 movie ‘Patch Adams,’ starring Robin Williams.