When you can’t buy a hit with a limitless credit card, when you can’t find a hit with a divining stick, when you can’t locate a hit on the web-site of ‘Hits ‘R Us,’ who you gonna call?
Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier began play Friday night in Great American Ballpark on a 0-for-31 slide.
So what’s he gonna do? Well, who better to listen to for advice, who knows more about hitting than any living human being?
Peter Edward Rose. The Hit King. The man who stroked 4,256 major-league hits. When Pete Rose comes calling to talk about hitting, you listen, listen and listen some more.
And that’s what Frazier did Wednesday afternoon when he ran into Rose.
And what Rose said helped Frazier on Friday night to poke two hits, draw a walk and score three runs during a 7-2 victory over the San Diego Padres.
In addition to the offensive outburst, Frazier made two above-and-beyond plays at third base and he choreographed the music for the post-game fireworks shows.
Frazier loves Frank Sinatra, using his music as his walk-up songs to the batter’s box. Did he use all Sinatra music for the fireworks show. “Nope, just the finale — ‘Oh, Beautiful,’” he said. And it was a beautiful night.
Joey Votto contributed a single and a triple, each hit driving home Frazier, as the Reds won for the third straight time.
On a hot, muggy night, Bronson Arroyo went seven innings and gave up one run and four hits, walked none and struck out seven.
What did Rose say to jump-start Frazier?
“He sought me out and that was pretty cool,” said Frazier. “The first thing he said was for me not to call it a slump. He said to call it a funk, that I’m just in a funk and I will get out of it. We talked about a couple of things for about 10 minutes.
“He told me I’m either swinging at bad pitches or just missing the ball — or both,” Frazier added. “He told me to keep doing what I’m doing.”
To Frazier, it felt as bad it looked — no hits in August, the longest hitless stretch by a Reds player since Drew Stubbs went 0 for 32 last season. The strange thing is that before Frazier went into his slump, er, funk, he hit .406 during an eight-game hitting streak.
“You talk to him for ten minutes and you don’t remember all the things because he knows so much, but you remember the important stuff and a lot of it hit the head,” Frazier said about his chat with Rose. “He told me basically what I knew I was doing wrong.”
On Wednesday, Manager Dusty Baker moved Frazier from sixth to second in the batting order, hoping he would see a lot of fastballs because at No. 2 he is batting ahead of Joey Votto. And he was in the two-hole Friday, too.
Frazier thinks batting second is going to help him find his lost stroke. “I should get more fastballs. I batted leadoff most of my career in high school and college and in the minors I batted third. Batting up in the order you know you are going to get good pitches to hit, so you better be ready.
“I had to show a little more control, get the pitch I want, be selective,” he added. “Once I start being selective the hits will start coming again.
“It’s weird, you know, because you can’t just sit and have pity on yourself all the time because that’s not how it goes,” he said. “Most people don’t feel bad for you. At the same, I know it’s my job and I have to do my job or somebody else will. I understand what’s going on. I know anybody can go through it and right now it is me.”
As a positive guy, a glass three-fourths full guy, Frazier said, “Down the road, later in my career, I’ll look back on this a considerate a learning experience, something that was good for me to go through.
Frazier broke the skid in the first inning with a solid double to left field and after his slide he looked into the dugout with a broad smile and said, “I wanted to lift up second base and throw it. I asked for the ball, but I was kidding. I watched the Little League World Series today, thinking about going back to that swing when you didn’t care about nothing — swing as hard as you can, see the ball, hit the ball, just try to knock it out of the park.
“That was the first time I ever talked to Pete Rose, so that was pretty much of an eye opener for me,” Frazier added. “Enough was enough, basically.”
And just to add a little into the mix, Frazier had his head shaved to his skull-line before Friday’s game, trying to cut that slump right out of his hair.