Reds picking spots for steals, not running wild

Reds picking spots for steals, not running wild

NEW YORK -- The Reds came into Tuesday leading the National League in steals with 17 and were tied for second in the Majors. That doesn't mean they're the "Running Reds," stealing bags at will. Players have been picking their spots and giving themselves the best opportunity.

"I think it's more about what's out there to take," Reds manager Bryan Price said Tuesday afternoon. "You get some of these pitching staffs that everybody is a 1.1-1.25 [seconds] to the plate from the stretch and there's really very little you can do. Some teams might be quick with a runner at first base, [but] the runner gets to second and they go up by three- or four-tenths of a second. That makes third base an option to try and steal with a lot of optimism that guys can make it."

During Monday's 5-3 loss to the Mets, the Reds tied a season high with five steals against the deliberate delivery of Mets starter Noah Syndergaard. Trailing, 1-0, in the third inning, Billy Hamilton bunted for a single against Syndergaard and then stole both second base and third base while Zack Cozart batted. Cozart drove in Hamilton with a sacrifice fly.

It's not just the speedy Hamilton swiping bases. Eugenio Suarez, Brandon Phillips and Ivan De Jesus Jr. each took one. Hamilton, who missed time last week with a sore left thumb, shares the team lead with Suarez, at four. As a team, the Reds had been caught four times entering Tuesday. Suarez gave some credit to Mike Stefanski, the Reds' catching coach.

"[Stefanski] does a good job because he gives us little tips for stealing bases," Suarez said. "We had Syndergaard last night. He's got a big difference when he comes to home, that's really important for us. As a team, we need to take extra bases, steal bases and make runs."

On April 19 vs. the Rockies, the Reds stole a club-record five bases in one inning against lefty Jorge De La Rosa. Four different players notched a steal in that second inning, with Jay Bruce taking two. Entering that game, 75 percent of baserunners successfully stole when De La Rosa pitches.

"I think for us, it's trying to exploit those who aren't quite as adept to controlling the running game," Price said. "We're not really doing a whole lot with the catchers -- they do a nice job. Both the catchers in Colorado throw well and certainly [Travis] d'Arnaud does a nice job behind the plate. It's really just trying to get what we can from the pitchers. ... We don't want to just run into blind outs. That doesn't make any sense. We're really just trying to take advantage of what's there to take."

"Credit should go to the baserunners, because very rarely right now am I picking the exact pitch for when I want them to run. A lot of these guys are taking it when I green light them."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.