CINCINNATI -- Learning the nuances of pinch-hitting is difficult for many hitters, but it can be compounded for rookies, like Reds outfielder Donald Lutz. Until his first big league callup on April 29, Lutz had not played above Double-A.
In Cincinnati's last three games, Lutz has two hits as a pinch-hitter. He hit a two-run single in the sixth inning of Sunday's 5-1 win against the Brewers. During Monday's 4-1 victory against the Pirates, Lutz batted for pitcher Mike Leake in the seventh inning and hit a one-out single through the right side. He lined out to center field in the eighth inning of Tuesday's 4-0 loss.
Before those hits, Lutz was 3-for-18 as a pinch-hitter and in a 2-for-16 stretch overall.
"It's hard. I've never come off of the bench like that before this season," Lutz said Tuesday. "It helped me a lot to talk to the other guys that have some experience with it. They told me the biggest thing is -- obviously -- is being ready and get in the cage and get loose and stuff like that. The mental part also plays a big role. You may get only one at-bat for two, three or four days. It's hard to think about it the whole time. It's not easy, but I'm getting used to it."
Lutz's two hits raised his batting average from .231 to .259. Often, pinch-hitters are instructed to go up there swinging early and often -- especially because they can expect more fastballs from late-inning relievers. That strategy hasn't benefited Lutz, however.
"That's how I was in the beginning," Lutz said. "You can run into one once in a while. But obviously that didn't work out for me. I'm trying to be less aggressive. If you don't play every day, it's not like you can take your regular swing up there. I've turned it down a notch and it's making it a little easier."
Votto, Rose exchange thumbs up after Monday homer
CINCINNATI -- Just before his ninth-inning at-bat against the Pirates on Monday, first baseman Joey Votto exchanged brief pleasantries with a person wearing a camouflage-colored Reds cap in the third row behind home plate.
It wasn't just any fan, however. It was Reds great and all-time hits leader Pete Rose. Votto then connected on a 2-0 Bryan Morris pitch for a solo home run to left field. Upon touching home plate, he looked in Rose's direction.
"After the at-bat, he gave me a thumbs up, and I pointed to him and gave a thumbs up back," Votto said Tuesday.
Although banned from working or participating in baseball since 1989 for betting on games as Reds manager, Rose can still attend Major League games if he has a ticket.
Votto, who has long been a student of hitting, has gotten to know Rose a little bit over recent years. He has plenty of respect for the former player who has 4,256 career hits.
"More than anything, even when I didn't know him personally, I knew him because of his reputation in Cincinnati because how well people speak of him," Votto said. "I wouldn't be the player I am today without the examples set by the generations before me and the generations before them. I'm grateful for the Pirates, because they make us better and the same thing goes for the generations before. We are where we are because of the people surrounding us and the people that preceded us."
Cozart's hitting streak snapped at seven
CINCINNATI -- Reds shortstop Zack Cozart extended his hitting streak to seven on Monday with a long solo home run to the upper deck in left field, but he went 0-for-4 in Tuesday's 4-0 loss. Cozart's seventh homer of the season came in the fourth inning of Monday's 4-1 victory against the Pirates.
Cozart, who batted second Tuesday after hitting seventh Monday, entered the night batting .326 (31-for-95) over his previous 23 games.
"He's been swinging better and is being more aggressive," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We definitely need him. We need everybody, especially in the top of the order, you need him as a double leadoff man. Down in the order, you need him to roll the lineup over and drive in some runs. He's equally as important no matter where he's hitting."
• In his first game on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville, outfielder Chris Heisey (strained right hamstring) went 2-for-4 as the designated hitter. During the 16-3 loss at Durham, catcher Corky Miller pitched the final two innings in his third relief appearance of the season. Miller, a knuckleballer, allowed four runs and three hits, including a home run.
• The Reds held Police and Fire Appreciation Night during Tuesday's game. The honorary captains were Parker and Hunter Ellis, the children on slain Bardstown, Ky., officer Jason Ellis. On May 25, Ellis, a Cincinnati native who spent one season in the Reds' Minor League system, was killed in the line of duty.