CINCINNATI -- Driving home runners in scoring position has been a Reds weakness much of the season. They entered Sunday 11th out of 16 National League teams with a .228 average with runners in scoring position.
Teaching hitters how to handle those situations has been an ongoing process, especially for a Reds team with many younger hitters.
"You have to get to a level of relaxation and comfort first, that's No. 1," Reds manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. "You have to realize that the pitcher is in trouble and not you. Everybody didn't come up knowing."I remember having sessions with Orlando Cepeda, Hank Aaron and a real good session with Tony Perez about how to drive in runs -- what to look for, pitches to stay off, where to zone him, in and out or up and down, the repertoire of the pitchers, what you need and what he's trying to do to you. Sometimes he's trying to strike you out. Sometimes, he doesn't mind popping you up or getting a fly ball with two outs. In a double-play situation, they're trying to make you hit the ball on the ground."
In the previous three games, Cincinnati left 28 runners stranded on base. Only one player, Joey Votto with 38 RBIs, is ranked the top 10 in that category in the league, although Jay Bruce is right behind Votto with 37 RBIs.
"Over the years since I've been here, I've tried to tell the guys the same thing that was told to me. The RBI man is a big man," Baker said. "Everybody talks about on-base percentage, which is important. But even more important is when you get them out there, how many RBI men are around?
"You have to have a theory, a plan and a thought process if you're going to be a true RBI man."
Reds close to signing first-round Draft pick
CINCINNATI -- The Reds are closing in on signing their first-round pick from the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.
Since his selection last Monday, negotiations have moved quick with the 14th-overall selection, right-handed pitcher Nick Travieso from Archbishop McCarthy High School near Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
"We're pretty close," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told MLB.com on Sunday. "I think we're just trying to finish up a couple things, hopefully sometime this week."
The 18-year-old Travieso has not yet been brought to Cincinnati for a physical, but it's being discussed when he might be invited to visit.
"If we can get it done before we leave town," Jocketty said. The Reds begin a six-day road trip on Friday.
According to new Major League Baseball guidelines, the recommended bonus slot for the 14th pick is $2.375 million.
The deadline to sign 2012 Draft picks is 5 p.m. ET on July 13, so Travieso could have a chance to get an early jump on his pro career. Cincinnati already signed several picks this past week, including 49th-overall pick and high-school outfielder Jesse Winker and a fourth rounder in pitcher Jon Moscot out of Pepperdine.
"The earlier they get out, the sooner that they can start progressing," Jocketty said.
Bray, Rolen make progress in rehabs
CINCINNATI -- Left-handed reliever Bill Bray, who has been on the disabled list since April 24 with left groin and back injuries, started his rehab assignment on Saturday. Bray pitched one scoreless inning for Class A Dayton with one walk and one strikeout. He is scheduled to pitch again for the Dragons on Monday.
Third baseman Scott Rolen, out since May 12 with a strained left shoulder, took batting practice again on Sunday. Reds manager Dusty Baker said that Rolen has progressed well.
However, a target date for Rolen's activation from the disabled list remains unclear.
"We have to see and have to discuss it with him," Baker said on Sunday. "We want him to come back ready and not come back and have to get ready."
Baker said that he and Rolen have not discussed whether the veteran player would go out on a rehab assignment.