MIAMI -- During his brief tenure with the Reds, right fielder Scott Schebler has had lengthy periods where his production swooned. But the one Schebler is currently mired in has particularly taxed his mind.
Schebler entered Friday batting .071 (3-for-42) with no homers and no RBIs since the All-Star break. He finally broke through with a ninth-inning, 432-foot solo home run to right field against reliever Junichi Tazawa in the Reds' 7-4 loss on Friday at Marlins Park.
Schebler wasn't on fire going into the break either, as he was batting .141/.212/.269 for the month of July with two homers and four RBIs.
"Hopefully I will get back to the way I was playing in the first half. It's definitely frustrating. It's starting to wear on me a little," Schebler said before the game. "You try not to let it because I've obviously been through it before and everybody goes through it. You have to have thick skin and figure out exactly what the problem is and go from there."
Schebler, who had 22 homers and 44 RBIs from the first half, has been watching video of his swing and is spotting mechanical mistakes.
"I'm underneath a lot, fouling a lot of pitches off. It's just really not my game," Schebler said. "Obviously, being underneath the ball is not a good place to be. I was underneath some sliders [Thursday], which is even more embarrassing because those are coming at me down. If you're below those, you have no chance with the fastball."
Not only is Schebler hitting more pop-ups, but according to Statcast™, he's also getting more grounders and fewer line drives and fly balls.
Pre-July: 44.3 GB%, 22.2 LD%, 22.7 FB%, 10.8 popup%
July: 52.8 GB%, 17.0 LD%, 17.0 FB%, 13.2 popup%
Schebler has also seen his hard-hit percentage (95+ mph exit velocity) drop from 40.9 to 34.0 percent between those two periods, while his rate of barrels/batted balls has dropped from 11.3 to 7.6 percent.
The lefty-hitting Schebler has also been pulling balls into the shift and not going to the opposite field.
"Once I figure that out, I think everything will come back into place," Schebler said. "Right now, I'm not able to go that way. Until I do, I will probably be scuffling."
Prospect and corner outfielder Jesse Winker, currently at Triple-A Louisville, is showing that he's ready for an extended look after being called up multiple times this season to help from the bench. If Schebler doesn't find his swing, that change could be easier to make.
"I don't think anything in the short-term, but I certainly think that at some point Jesse's going to come up here and get some playing time," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "And I think that would necessitate the need to move guys around. Not necessarily just to isolate Scott and say, 'Scott, you're the odd guy out.' I don't mean that at all. But if we do get Jesse back up, it'll be more of a rotation situation with the outfield, because that's what you do. You're 20 games under .500, you start looking at players that you think might be able to help you in the future."
Cincinnati held shortstop Zack Cozart out of the starting lineup for a fourth straight game because of his sore right quadriceps. Cozart progressed to running drills in the outfield on Thursday with strength coach Sean Marohn. He has also spent extra time in the training room for treatment.
"Basically, we're trying to get everything calmed down so I can get to where I was before Tuesday," Cozart said. "It's still not 100 percent, but better than where I'm at technically right now. We'll see."
Cozart's injury ahead of Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline might have removed some of the drama for him.
"I don't know if it does or not. I just want to play," said Cozart, who has been mentioned in few rumors lately. "I would prefer to not have a quad injury. I don't know how any of that works. We'll see."
Starting pitcher Scott Feldman, on the 10-day disabled list with right knee inflammation, will throw a light side bullpen session on Saturday in Cincinnati. If that goes well, Price said, Feldman could meet the club in Pittsburgh next week to continue throwing.