(Photo: The Enquirer/Kareem Elgazzar)
By John Fay
GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Reds manager Bryan Price was in the middle of a long lesson on why you can’t put too much into spring stats when he was asked about Brennan Boesch.
Boesch, in camp as non-roster outfielder, has put up off-the-charts stats this spring. He’s hitting .500 with three home runs and six RBI in 26-bats. But Boesch, 29, has made an impression beyond the numbers.
“What I see with Brennan Boesch is his early major league success in Detroit, followed by a year of kind of figuring himself out,” Price said. “He led the PCL in hitting. He hit over .330 with a bunch of homers and RBIs and he got a chance to play center field. It was liberating for him to just go out there and hit. Speaking with him, he found what he needed to do offensively.”
Boesch hit .332 with 25 home runs and 85 RBI in 95 games for Triple-A Salt Lake City. What’s impressed Price this spring is Boesch, a left-handed hitter, has done damage against left-handed pitching.
“He’s had the type of spring where you say: Man, maybe this guy has revitalized his career,” Price said. “We temper everything, but it’s not just the fact that he’s hitting .500 in 26 at-bats. He’s played an unbelievable center field, he’s throwing well, he’s run the bases well.”
But, again, Price and the Reds don’t base too much on spring stats.
“When we get these stats, I always say that the only thing they are good for is how many at-bats guys are getting and how many innings,” Price said. “All the stuff — as much as we say it’s greatly relevant — it’s not. If Joey Votto hits .230 or Jay Bruce hits .150, it doesn’t matter because we know what they’re capable of doing.”
For non-roster players, having a good spring is important, however.
“You have to balance what they’ve done historically with what they’re doing in spring training. Have they closed up the hole in their swing? Are they good on the mound to have given up one run in 15 innings? You have to evaluate what you see and not what you read.”