Barnhart adjusting to drastic shifts at plate

Catcher bunted his way on base down third-base line Friday

May 21st, 2016

CINCINNATI -- Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart is used to seeing a slight infield shift to the first-base side, but not quite like the one he saw in the sixth inning of Friday night's 8-3 loss to the Mariners.

"Usually teams will shade me to pull in the infield, but the third baseman will play on the baseline from second to third, just kind of over just a little bit off the line," Barnhart said on Saturday. "But yesterday the third baseman was all the way to shortstop."

With a wide hole down the third-base line, Barnhart took the opportunity and pushed a bunt down the line. With nobody close enough to make a play, Barnhart easily made it to first with his second hit of the game and his third career bunt base hit.

"That's what he does, bunt and slash. We talk a lot about Barney, how his speed dynamic plays so well," joked manager Bryan Price about the slow-footed Barnhart. "His goal this year is setting the all-time triple records for a catcher. Set the bar high."

While the moment gave the Reds a moment to joke about in an otherwise tough loss on Friday, the game actually represented a real positive for Barnhart, who broke a 2-for-22 streak over his last six games by finishing 3-for-4 with an RBI.

Being able to go to the opposite field, even on a bunt, shows progress, Price said.

"When Barney, I think, gets out of sorts, it's a lot of pulled ground balls to the right side, first baseman, second baseman," Price said. "He's hit a lot of balls hard out to left-center field and center field, he just hasn't had a whole lot of luck. Yesterday, he did a real nice job."

Hitting eighth in the order, one of the most important things Barnhart has to do is try to get on base with two outs to keep the pitcher from leading off the next inning.

The two-out bunt single represents a step in the right direction for Barnhart in that aspect, as well.

"It's a tough spot to hit in, the eighth spot with the pitcher hitting behind you, especially with two outs," Price said. "He also knows how important it is with two outs is to try to find a way to get us to the pitcher's spot to roll the order. He really, I thought that was a great effort on his part to get us to the pitcher's spot by laying down that bunt."

"It was a chance to turn the lineup over and gave us an opportunity that if we wanted to keep a bullpen guy in for two innings, we didn't have to lead the pitcher's spot off in that next inning," Barnhart said.