Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart batted third in a spring training game vs. the Los Angeles Angels last week.
It’s unlikely that Barnhart will bat in that position during the regular season but Barnhart is feeling more comfortable since abandoning the right handed side of the batter’s box. Last September, Barnhart, typically a switch-hitter, cited the inability to get enough repetitions from the right side.
There is proof. Barnhart’s batting average from the right side at .250. He hit .258 left-handed and .219 right-handed last season. When he abandoned switch hitting last season, he had four at bats without a hit and struck out twice against left-handed pitchers. It is not nearly enough data to indicate how successful he would be facing left handers moving forward but Barnhart is comfortable with the change.
“It’s been good,” Barnhart said. “I get a lot of left on lefty BP (batting practice) every day. I’ve had a few at bats in spring training so far. I feel good. I don’t feel like a fish out of water.
“Hiring in general is difficult,” Barnhart added. “Being able to recognize the outside corner is a little difficult but I’m starting to get a feel for it. It’s been good.”
Still the natural advantage of hitting from the opposite side of the plate from the pitchers arm, isn’t something to abandon without a lot of thought and self awareness after nearly six years of experience in the big leagues.
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Reds manager David Bell, who played in the big leagues for 12 seasons, tried and abandoned switch-hitting at an early age.
“I experimented with switch-hitting up until age seven,” Bell said. “I wish I would have stuck with it. You go into a little league game and you make a couple outs and you think its the end of the world. You think it’s so important that you think I’m never going to do this again. It is a huge advantage in this game being left handed. Obviously, you can do without it.”
Bell, however, agrees with Barnhart giving up an advantage at least from the right side.
“I think Tucker made the right decision,” Bell said. “I know he did it because he believes it’s the right thing to do. I’d be more concerned if he gave up the left side.”
Notes: Freddie Galvis might be back in the lineup before the off day on March 11. He had a shoulder problem early in camp and was the designated hitter in a couple games. His current ailment is tightness in his left quadriceps. He will DH one more game before he plays shortstop… Travis Jankowski hasn’t played since Feb. 29 when he suffered a mild strain in his left hamstring. He remains day-to-day…Boog Powell has been out since Feb. 23 with a contusion on his right heal…Nick Senzel was the designated hitter in two games. He is still in medical protocol after having a torn labrum repaired in his right shoulder…Eugenio Suarez still expects to be ready early in the season, if not opening day. He had surgery to remove loose cartilage from his right shoulder after a swimming pool accident.
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