CINCINNATI — 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 ‘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 for life.
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 after a 6-5 win over the Oakland Athletics.
What did Rose say?
“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 feels as bad it looks. 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 added. “He told me basically what I know I’m 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.
“I thought I made some strides Wednesday,” Frazier said. “My first two at-bats I saw a lot of pitches and in one of those at-bats I got on base (a first at-bat walk).” Frazier also was hit by a pitch on his fifth plate appearance, but was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts the other two at-bats.
“You have to look at the positive,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. I got on base twice out of five times, scored a run. Did I get a hit? No. But the team one. Slowly but surely.”
While most players deep in a hole don’t like a lot of chit-chat and advance, Frazier says, “The more people I talk to the better off I am. I understand what got me here, being the free-swinger that I am.
“But right now I have 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.”
Frazier took a long extra session of batting practice Wednesday and said, “It was good. I felt very good. We were working on my hands because that’s the best part of my body when it comes to hitting. When my hands are in the right position I’m going to hit the ball hard, whether it is an out or a hit.”
Frazier said he is not getting any off-the-wall advice from fans like drinking Kool-Aid with molasses, or wearing an extra pair of underwear or rubbing his bats with snake oil or taking a different route to the ballpark every day.
“I don’t look into it on social media because everybody has their opinion, he said. “That’s what social media is about. I do fantasy football and I get upset with my players when they don’t do well. I don’t tweet about it, but I grouse about it with my buddies.”
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.”
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.
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.