Frazier, new Reds lineup making a statement early
CINCINNATI — As Todd Frazier walked to the batter’s box Thursday afternoon, strains of his walk-up song, Frank Sinatra’s ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ reverberated over the Great American Ball Park audio system.
That’s as it always is. Todd Frazier and Frank Sinatra. Frank Sinatra and Todd Frazier. Frazier loves the iconic crooner so much he even goes to shows put on by Frank Sinatra impersonators.
But there was another sound on Thursday and Frazier heard it, "Because I hear everything, even though I’m focused and locked in to the game. I hear everything when I’m in the ballpark."
What Frazier heard, and everybody else heard, was chants emanating from the right field stands and spreading rapidly, "MVP, MVP, MVP."
Frazier said he listened for a moment, smiled, and stepped into the batter’s box to do his job.
And so far he is doing it amazingly well during a three-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He is hitting .308 with a double, two home runs and four runs batted in.
"Three games into the season? It doesn’t make any sense, but I appreciate it," said the Cincinnati Reds ever-popular third baseman. "I just smile and keep getting knocks (hits). I’m not worried about it, I just let it come."
Frazier smiled broadly as he pulled on his red hat with the white wishbone ‘C’ and adjusted it firmly on his head. "I hope I’m still hearing it 120 games into the season and then it will mean something."
And Frazier also knows that a three-game winning streak to start the season means nothing more than there are 159 more games to play, but he also believes it sends a whisper of a message around baseball.
"Baseball is all about making statements — winning each series, getting sweeps," he said. "We couldn’t ask for a better start no matter how we do it."
The Reds won Game One over the Pirates, 5-2, on Frazier’s three-run home run in the eighth. They won Game Two on Joey Votto’s walk-off single in the 11th inning. They won Game Three on Marlon Byrd’s game-ending line drive single to right field in the bottom of the ninth.
"Three different heroes on the batting side of it and that’s even better," said Frazier. "We battled our tails off in all three games, battled through rain delays and power outages. Once we’re on that field, the focus is to win and so far, so very, very good.
"I was very happy to see Byrd get his hit because he was scuffling a bit the first two games," Frazier added. "When he came up with Zack Cozart on third, I was saying, ‘Don’t swing at the first pitch, get a good pitch to hit.’"
Byrd swung at the first pitch and ended the game and Frazier said, "When you get a good pitch to hit you attack it and try to crush it and he did. Any way to win."
In manager Bryan Price’s revamped lineup from last season, Billy Hamilton is batting first, Joey Votto second, Frazier third and Devon Mesoraco is batting clean-up. Jay Bruce is batting fifth, Marlon Byrd sixth, Brandon Phillips seven and Zack Cozart eighth.
"Formidable," said Frazier. "Pretty darn formidable." And with Frazier batting third behind Hamilton and Votto the RBI opportunities should surface in abundance.
Frazier, though, isn’t gloating about his spot in the order.
"I love the three-hole, yes," he said. "But everybody in this lineup is the same. We had a meeting awhile back and we all concurred that we don’t care where any of us hit. We just want to win. We all said it. We all came together and said it. That’s a good sign for a team.
"And we saw how it worked the first three games, different guys doing different things at different times," he said. "If one guy fails, the next guy picks him up. And hopefully, 120 games down the road they’ll be asking me the same question and I’ll be giving the same answer."
Responding to a remark that with Hamilton and Votto ahead of him, there will be a lot of runners to drove in, Frazier said, "And if I don’t get him in, you can move down the order to Devin and Jay and Marlon to do it. Two through eight we could possibly each have 25 home run seasons.
After sweeping the Pirates, the Reds were faced with a three-game series against the defending NL Central champion St. Louis Cardinals.
"It is very exciting what we’ve done so far and we don’t need to worry about anything else but doing what we’ve been doing, you know. Then when it gets to the 120th game of the season we’ll be talking about the same things and I’ll be saying, ‘Guess what? Look where we are now?’" said Frazier, grabbing his bat to head for batting practice and his appointment against the Cardinals.