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Maybe Chris Heisey doesn’t really want to play

Apr 11, 2012, 6:55 PM EDT

Chris Heisey Getty Images

Chris Heisey was on the bench for the third time in six games Wednesday, but he didn’t seem to mind. He might actually be in line for more time there after delivering a pinch-hit game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth against the Cardinals.

“I can’t really explain why I’m more relaxed pinch-hitting than I am when I’m up there in a late-game situation after being a starter,” Heisey told the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Tom Groeschen. “It just seems to work better pinch-hitting, and I don’t have any reason to explain that.”

True or not, Heisey was naive to make such a comment. Words like that can cement reputations in baseball. If Heisey doesn’t have that burning desire to start, it’ll quickly become a part of his permanent record and he could find himself with limited opportunities going forward. Of course, this is just one quote taken in the afterglow of a game-winning hit and it probably doesn’t mean much. Still, he’d be smart not to advertise such thoughts again.

As for Heisey’s current situation, well, the guy he’s splitting time with, Ryan Ludwick, is off to a 1-for-11 start. Heisey deserves a shot to play regularly based on his performance as a part-timer the last two years. But if Dusty Baker thinks he’s at least as valuable off the bench as he is in the lineup, then it’s not likely to happen.

  1. drewsylvania - Apr 11, 2012 at 7:24 PM

    Just hit like Neifi, you’ll get the leadoff spot.

  2. metalhead65 - Apr 11, 2012 at 7:58 PM

    do you seriously expect dusty to give Heisey playing time? you do not watch the reds very much do you? since he came thru and had the game winning hit you can count on him not playing for a week. dusty does not believe in rewarding guys with playing time. besides it is just a matter of time before ludwick starts hitting like his 2008 self,which is what they are paying him 2.5 million dollars to do. can’t have the guy playing better interfere with him getting his groove back

    • stex52 - Apr 11, 2012 at 9:53 PM

      I hope you are wrong, but it certainly wouldn’t be the first time I’ve seen it in MLB. Coaches just can’t seem to get past the idea of sunk cost. Maybe it starts with a loyalty to the established vet, but it ruins more young careers and it doesn’t serve the team well, either.

      • metalhead65 - Apr 11, 2012 at 10:32 PM

        sadly in this case I am not. all you have to look at what they did to him last year. with the reds clearly out of contention and they finally dumped gomes who was awful and instead of giving the job to heisey to see if he could be the everyday lefy fielder he “platooned” him with the immortal fred lewis. and by platoon I mean lewis play 5 games out of 7, they finally sent lewis down so dusty would have no choice but to play him in sept. but heisey got hurt. then they signed one of waly’s washed up cards to play left field full time and overpaid him to do it.

    • spudchukar - Apr 12, 2012 at 9:37 AM

      Heisey’s problem isn’t his hitting, at least when he makes contact. Here is the dilemma Dusty faces; play an intelligent, very good outfielder with a track record of success especially in the power department, with slightly better than average speed or a young, talented, hitter with power, equally good speed, but below average skills as a defender, who consistently commits bone-headed, inattentive errors.(See game 2 where Heisey was asleep and picked off first in an embarrassing fashion).

      Compound this with the fact that they are both right-handed, have wholes in their swings and both strike out a lot. I do not profess to know the answer. If Ludwig could regain his St. Louis form where he slugged 56 homers in less than 2 seasons in St. Louis, then he probably should get the nod, but if his better days are behind him and his lack of production in San Diego wasn’t simply due to the monstrous dimensions, then Heisey is probably a better bet.

      Heisey could certainly make it easier on Dusty if his approach to the game gave the appearance that he cared about more than just hitting. From what I have seen and heard, his desultory, perfunctory efforts on defense and base running is what is keeping him from consistent playing time.

  3. metalhead65 - Apr 12, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    how do you consistantly make bone head plays as you claim when you do not get consistant playing time? brandon phillips gets picked off in games to. I have not seen poor defense by him when he does get playing time and he is good enough that he can play all the outfield positions. he will never show consistancy if he is not allowed to play. like I said last year was the perfect oppertunity to give him a chnce to play everyday when they were out of the race and gomes was gone to see if he could do the job but dusty refused until it was to late. how many other mangers bench a guy after he hits 3 homers in a game? yet dusty did that to him after the yankees game last year and he did not play for a week after then people are upset he did not play well in the next game he played. as for ludwick I can see his power numbers going down play at peco but all of his numbers? then after he was traded to the pirates he did nothing. I would love to see him put up his st. louis numbers but shouldn’t he do that first before the reds pay him like he has? they are paying him for what he did in 2008 not what he is worth with renteria who were the reds bidding against to get him? just another case of walt’s loyalty to guys who were with him in st.louis even though they are not the same player they were then.

    • stlouis1baseball - Apr 12, 2012 at 1:07 PM

      Excellant point Metalhead. Dusty is all veterans…all the time (as you well know). Personally, I have seen Heisey play numerous times and I can clearly see the kid can play defense. Hell…he is occasionally moved to centerfield cause’ Stubbs can’t hit to save his life (although he did get one yesterday). I was at the game yesterday. Great game. I could see it ending they way it did and called it out to a my buddy (a Redlegs fan). Top of the ninth…we had our 7, 8 and 9 hitters up and you guys had Votto, Ludwick and Bruce in your half. To the Redlegs’ credit…they came through with their second walk off of the year. Upon arriving…I was dissapointed to see Matheny decided to field the JV team when the Cardinals are going for the series sweep to start the season with Cincinnati. Thom Brennaman refered to the Cardinals lineup as “rumdumb.” I can’t disagree. NO Freese…NO Berkman…NO Beltran. Dissapointing. But again…the Redlegs out hit us…and came through in the clutch. They deserved to win the game. Dusty needs someone to make ALL pitching related decisions for him (as you well know). Chapman needs to be in the rotation right now. He’s bullpen…he’s rotation…he’s bullpen…he’s rotation. In the process…he’s screwing with the kids head in a serious way. Chapman needs to start…NOW.

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