Cincinnati Reds‘ rookie manager Bryan Price faced the unusual challenge of taking over an underachieving team whose manager — Dusty Baker — lost his job after failing to lead the Reds to the postseason promised land in 2013.
Serving as the Reds’ pitching coach for the past four years certainly helped Price in his transition to take over for Baker, but nothing had prepared Price for the dismal start to the Reds’ 2014 season.
To Price’s credit, he wasted little time in making some changes to spark the Reds from their sluggish start. Most of these changes involved shuffling the batting order — most notably shifting first baseman Joey Votto from third in the batting order (where he had hit for five years) to second.
The other changes Price made may not have been as prominent as the Votto switch but were no less bold. Moving both Jay Bruce and Ryan Ludwick out of the cleanup spot in favor of the often-struggling Todd Frazier was a change that may have raised some eyebrows in Reds’ Country, but Price had already bumped Frazier to the fifth spot after starting the season batting sixth.
Frazier batted sixth eight of the Reds’ first 10 games and cleanup three of the last four. In his first six games started batting either cleanup or fifth, Frazier has hit four home runs and knocked in eight runs.
Last year under Baker as the Reds’ primary sixth hitter, Frazier batted cleanup as a starter just three times and fifth just 11 times. And that was with the Reds’ expected cleanup hitter in Ludwick missing most of the 2013 season.
How long Price will continue to bat Frazier fourth or fifth is most likely dependent on a combination of Frazier’s success and the struggles of both Bruce and Ludwick. But the move serves notice to every player in the lineup that their manager will make changes when he sees fit for the benefit of the team overall.