Clearly, we're only a week into the season, but I find myself wondering what exactly manager Jerry Narron wants out of Ryan Freel.
- Game 1. Freel doesn't play. Reds lose to Cubs, 16-7.
- Game 2. Freel starts at second. He scores three runs, one more than the Reds' margin of victory. He steals three bases. The Reds beat the Cubs in grand form, 8-6.
- Game 3. Perhaps hoping to just continue riding the electricity he provided the day before, Narron sits Freel. The Reds win over the Pirates 5-6.
- Game 4. Freel starts at second and goes 2-4 with a walk and a run scored. No stolen bases. Reds beat Pirates, 6-7.
- Game 5. As apparent reward for his lack of steals, Freel starts at second and goes 3-4 with a walk and three runs scored. He steals two bases, and the Reds beat the Pirates 9-11.
- Today, the Reds dropped one to the Pirates, 5-3. Freel was utilized only to pinch hit for Tony Womack in the eighth inning. He walked and later scored.
You'll notice that, despite the fact that the Reds have not lost a game this season that Freel has started, and that every game in which Freel has stolen a base has been won by the Reds by more than one run, Freel has sat the day after every day he's stolen a base.
Don't get me wrong: I'm glad that Tony Womack is holding his own at second, and I certainly don't want to see Freel getting himself hurt. But what's the message Narron is sending here? I don't think anyone has done more this week to prove how vital he is to the team, but Freel still found himself on the bench the day before he would have gotten a off day anyway.
Maybe Narron's trying to teach him that stealing is wrong. He's said he is a religious man, after all.