Mentally-prepared Paul stays ready for Reds

Mentally-prepared Paul stays ready for Reds

Mentally-prepared Paul stays ready for Reds
CINCINNATI -- Reds backup outfielder and lefty hitter off the bench Xavier Paul continues to produce when called upon. It happened again in Sunday's 5-4 win as Paul lined a pinch-hit triple to lead off the ninth. He scored on Ryan Hanigan's single for the walk-off ending.

Paul is batting .342 with a .432 on-base percentage in 26 games since his July 18 callup from Triple-A Louisville. His success all but eliminated the Reds' search for an extra lefty hitter via trade.

"It's been fun to be able to be here with a team that's winning. I feel fortunate for the opportunity," said Paul, who was released by the Nationals on July 12 and was promptly signed by the Reds.

Paul started in left field for Game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader and hit a two-run home run in the second inning during a 5-3 Reds win over the Cubs. It was only the fourth homer of his big league career, and his first since Aug. 15, 2011, for the Pirates.

"It felt great, especially my first one as a Red," Paul said. "Hopefully I will get a couple of more down the road. It's been exciting from Day 1 when I got here. You feel the energy in the clubhouse. It's a fun bunch of guys that are hungry to win."

In 21 plate appearances for the Reds as a pinch-hitter, Paul is batting .389 (7-for-18) with three walks and only two strikeouts. He does whatever he can to remain sharp on bench in case he's summoned by manager Dusty Baker.

"I try to run every other inning and get a couple of sprints on the indoor track here," Paul said. "I stay mentally focused and prepared. I try to stay in the game every inning, watching from the dugout. I pay close attention to what's going on, so I'm on the same page with Dusty and know the way he's thinking. I look ahead. If I see them warming up a righty in the bullpen and the pitcher's spot is coming up, I make sure I'm ready ahead of time."