Ludwick explains himself to Reds fans
CINCINNATI -- Ryan Ludwick is a caring guy, a guy who wears his emotions right in the middle of the wishbone-C on his Cincinnati Reds baseball uniform.
From the day he came out of the womb he was a Reds fans, he loves Cincinnati, he loves the Reds, he loves the Cincinnati Bengals. And it is the major reason he took less money to sign with the Reds in the first place and the major reason he re-upped with the Reds, again for less money.
So forgive him if he was a bit emotional the last couple of days, especially after his wife received a tweet that said, “I hope your husband dies.”
It was the aftermath of Ludwick’s post-game chat with the media when he said he wished there were more fans in the stands for this week’s New York Mets series with so much on the line and he wished the fans that were in the stands had displayed more emotion, more intensity, more vociferous support for the team.
He wasn’t ripping the fans. He wasn’t criticizing them. As he said, “It was a pep talk. I was trying to fire them up. I was trying to get them more involved. I wanted them to show some energy, something off which we could feed.”
But fans and talk radio took it negatively and they fired away at the 34-year-old left-hander and one blogger said it was apparent Ludwick did not know the history of Cincinnati.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. And Ludwick admits, “It really hurt. I was very emotional about it.
“They don’t understand where I’m coming from,” said Ludwick. “I have four grandparents in the ground 40 miles from the stadium in Georgetown, Oh. My mom and dad grew up in Columbus. I grew up a Reds fans, an Ickey Woods and Boomer Esiason fan.
“The reason I came here is because this is a place that is dear to my heart,” he added. “My grandpa used to listen to Reds games on the porch in Georgetown.
“They’re saying I’m blaming the fans for our losses, which is not what I’m doing — that never came out of my mouth,” he said. “I’m just looking for intensity. I’m a lifelong Reds fan and I’ve been one since I was 1. This team was always my childhood favorite. I was just trying to get everyone on board.
“I’m trying to get the city to unite, the players to unite, the manager to unite, the coaches to unite,” he said. “Have fun with us — try to win a World Series. Am I saying intensity is going to win us a World Series? No. It was taken all wrong the way I meant it.
“This definitely a place dear to my heart and my grandfather is probably in Georgetown rolling around in his grave. It hurt me a little bit. I was a fan here before I was a player here,” Ludwick added. “I apologize to those who took it wrong. I want a World Series from a players standpoint and a fans standpoint.”
Ludwick remember going to his first big league game in 1989 and saw the Dodgers and the Reds and Eric Davis became his favorite player. And he said he remembers (Reds coach) Billy Hatcher setting a record for most hits in a row in a World Series in 1990 and he recited the names of Tom Browning, Jose Rijo, Chris Sabo, Hal Morris, Barry Larkin, The Nasty Boys, Davis and Hatcher.
“I heard the comments that I don’t know the history of the city and I know the history of the city,” said Ludwick.
The reaction in some quarters took Ludwick aback and on Thursdays off day he roamed his neighborhood, “And I asked everybody if what I said was wrong. I asked at the dry cleaner’s and at the sandwich shop. Nobody said I was wrong for saying what I said. Nobody has said it to me face-to-face. I just want everybody to know I love Cincinnati with all my heart and I’ll do anything I can to help bring a World Series championship to this city.”
Ludwick did not know what to expect from the fans Friday when the Reds opened a three-game series in Great American Ball Park against the Pittsburgh Pirates, a series that will determine home field advantage for the one-game wild card playoff Tuesday.
As Ludwick talked with the media before the game, pitcher Mat Latos walked by and said, “Batting No. 2. No pressure. You’re batting second.”
For the first time this year manager Dusty Baker had Ludwick batting second, a place in the order he hadn’t inhabited since 2010 when he was a St. Louis Cardinal.
“I talked to Luddy about it and he said he had batted second some in St. Louis,” said Baker. “I haven’t seen him totally 100 per cent yet. They are walking Joey Votto (batting third ahead of Ludwick, who was batting fourth). And Jay Bruce was behind him (fifth) striking out a lot.”
Because of his shoulder surgery after tearing it up on Opening Day sliding into third base, Ludwick was not able to lift weights during rehab because of the surgery and it robbed him of his power.
“I was taking Ludwick out for defense late in the games and that left a huge hole in the middle of my lineup,” said Baker. “The guys with whom I replaced him, Chris Heisey and Derrick Robinson, are more suited to bat second. So this came to me in the middle of the night, as they usually do. And hopefully, this is something that will work.”