Fans visiting Great American Ball Park on Wednesday could pose for photos on the Iron Throne from “Game of Thrones,” though — spoiler alert — it wasn’t the real throne.
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Fans of that HBO show will know it is moving toward a not-so-happy ending Sunday in the series finale, and the Cincinnati Reds offense continues to head in a similar direction. There’s no chance of dragons laying waste to the Reds’ bats, but a little of a quarter of the way through the season, a number of Reds still have batting averages hovering near .200.
It’s not early anymore. It will take some time for Tucker Barnhart (.167), Joey Votto (.207), Jose Peraza (.207), Yasiel Puig (.212) and Jesse Winker (.219) to elevate their averages to a respectable level.
Each of those players remains mired in slumps, though it’s not for a lack of trying, manager David Bell said. They’re working behind the scenes to get back on track.
“Anyone at this level, work is not the issue,” Bell said. “You wonder if it’s too much sometimes. In Joey’s case, he has such a good understanding of what he needs to do. His workload and work ethic is as fine tuned as you can get. I think it comes down to — and this will probably be a key for us when we do really get to where we need to be — just eliminating the focus on individual results and really putting your energy to winning. It really takes off a lot of pressure. That’s easier said than done because each one of these guys want to win so much, and they know by hitting it’s going to contribute.”
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The Reds’ team average dropped to .214 as they collected three hits Tuesday in a 3-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs. Last year, the Reds hit .254. They haven’t hit below .240 since 2014 when they posted a .238 average. The .214 average would be the worst in franchise history. The 1908 Reds hold the record with a .227 mark.
Votto, who provided the only run Tuesday with a home run, is a career .308 hitter. Winker (.279), Puig (.275), Peraza (.276) and Barnhart (.249) also own career averages much higher than their current numbers.
To turn the corner and break out of a slump, Barnhart said, “I think you create routines throughout your career, throughout your season, throughout spring training that help you not panic. If there’s a glaring thing that’s kind of going not the way you want it, you work on that. Speaking for me personally, I just try to maintain an even keel, try not to get too high and too low because it’s a long season, but with that said, it gets late early and you have to do whatever you can to break out of whatever slump you’re in. You try to work as hard as you can, and honestly, there are times when you can work too much.”
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NOTES: Starting pitcher Alex Wood could start a throwing program next week, Bell said. “It’s not 100 percent,” Bell said. “We’ll see how he does between now and Monday.” Wood has been on the injured list all season with a lower back injury. Bell did not want to put a timetable on when he might be able to return to the big leagues.
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