Dating back to last summer, there’s been a lot of talk about Jerry Narron “hating” Edwin Encarnacion.  I’ve joined in some of it, but never really believed it 100%. EE sat the bench for entirely too long last summer, but it was at a time when he was coming back from injury, and when both Hatteberg and Aurilia were hitting the ball well, so the lack of playing time could be explained away as a (misguided, but typical) preference for veterans, as opposed to some personal beef with EE.  Plus, Narron always seemed to say the right things, about EE being promising, hard-working, etc.

But now, I’m really confused.  Rosecrans’ excellent sidebar about Brandon Phillips’ lack of hustle last night has me a little chippy.  If you recall, Phillips thought he had a home run in the 8th last night, and brok into his trot.  The ball bounced off the wall, and by picking up the pace around 2nd, Phillips got a triple out of it.

Narron had some words for Phillips as he walked from third to the dugout after the inning was over, but the Reds manager did allow Phillips back on the field to finish the game.

“I told him I was thankful he made it to third base, because I would have hated for him to not been in there in the ninth inning,” Narron said. “I thought it was out. The only thing I can tell you is, as long as guys get the bases they’re supposed to get, that’s all I ask for.”

That’s all he asks for?  Last week, there was a different standard for EE:

“I don’t care if we lose every game, we’re not going to play guys who don’t hustle. It’s as simple as that,” Narron said after last Wednesday’s game with the Diamondbacks.

By the Encarnacion standard, EE was (properly, IMO) benched.  But now, there’s a new standard, where “as long as you get the bases you’re supposed to get,” there’s no consequences.  It’s purely outcome-oriented; no harm, no foul.

That, of course, makes me ask:  Did EE’s lack of hustle on a (caught) popup cost him any bases?  He got zero, exactly the same as if he’d ran it out.

Then, you have EE riding pine for the second straight game tonight – immediately after he broke out of his 0 for 22 slump with a huge RBI base-hit on Monday.  And Will Carroll’s report that EE might be on the trading block.

I can see Narron having a different standard for Griffey, who rarely hustles and pulled the exact same stunt as Phillips about 10 days ago.  But if anything, Phillips’ hot dog routine last night was more egregious than EE’s last week.  EE clearly didn’t know whether the ball was fair or foul.  Phillips was pure Cadillac, and he should’ve presumably learned from EE’s example last week.

Poor form by Jerry Narron, IMO.  EE’s one of the top 2-3 hitters on this club, which doesn’t have very many.  Keeping him on the bench and screwing with his head isn’t going to help this club win games.

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21 Responses

  1. Bill

    In addition to Griffey’s lack of hustle last night (I think it was) that got Phillips caught off second, when Griffey didn’t score from 2nd on a slow base hit to RF.

  2. Chris

    Yeah, I just don’t get it. I find it odd that Narron appoints himself the patron saint of hustle (drawing kudos far and wide around baseball), then acts like he’s any old manager, so long as EE’s not involved.

  3. al

    i noticed the discrepancy as well and thought it pretty lame. i guess narron was trying to say that phillips still legged out a tripple and it’s sort of hard to bench someone for that, but he shouldn’t have made the comment about getting the right amount of bases, it doesn’t make sense.

    griffey is a whole other story, but they’ve ruffled his feathers just about as much as their going to i’d guess.

    as for hating EdE, or wanting him traded, i think that’s guessing more than i’m willing too. after last night, when they’re facing another righty, hamilton, freel, griffey, and dunn were all going to play.

    So who do you bench? Phillips and EdE both started out weak, and maybe phillips could use the rest, but sitting EdE over Phillips tonight doesn’t stink of hatred to me. it had to be one of them. maybe narron will double switch ede in for phillips in the 4.5th inning.

  4. The Mad Hatter

    I just hope a trade doesn’t happen. We’ve given away enough offense since The Kriv has been around. And when he decides to dump somebody he doesn’t care what he gets in return

  5. Justin

    I am sure Wayne will get better value for him then he got from the snake oil pedler in DC. He gave us a bumb pitcher. Lopez was a halfasser as well….and still is.

  6. Mr. Redlegs

    Not to defend Narron but I believe his point in the difference betwee EE’s transgression and Phillips’ is that EE did nothing on his ball. Zero. But Phillips was at least moving and he made something out of his play. On EE’s ball, he would have been thrown at first from the center field warning track.

  7. Mr. Redlegs

    I always get a charge of these trade rumors in which they use the words “might” or “could be” on the trading block. Rod Beaton at USA Today used to always do this crap. He didn’t know squat so he made up stuff.

    Here’s the thing about that EE trade rumor:

    He might not be on the block.

    Additioonally, I find it hard to believe they’d deal a guy with EE’s youth and potential, giving hes got less than two years’ service time. Plus, they’d have to get one helluva right-handed bat in return because they have no slots in the outfield.

    I think this trade talk is BS.

  8. Chris

    I hope you’re right, Mr. R. But one year ago, I would’ve bet my life that they wouldn’t trade Kearns and Lopez for middle relievers and Royce Clayton.

    This team can’t afford to trade hitters, especially right-handed hitters, and I think Kriv had to have learned his lesson.

    I also see your point about Phillips and EE, but there’s also the mitigating/aggravating factors I listed above (fair vs. foul, etc.), but more importantly, the way Narron made such a point about it being a matter of principle with him. Last night was his chance to prove it, and he chose to look the other way and laugh Phillips’ stunt off.

    There may be some other explanation, but that, the EE benching, and last summer’s silliness start to form a pattern.

  9. Bill

    One other point of note in the Narron/EE debate…last year EE was benched because of his defense. He’s made one error all season, last night his replacement made his second in two nights…and not a word is spoken about it.

  10. Mr. Redlegs

    Chris and Bill, there’ s no question Narron has walked some plank on this issue of benchings and I really do believe he’s right in one regard, and yet you simply must treat players individually (based on experience, personality, emotions, patterns of behavior, etc) in others.

    This really isn’t a One-Benching-Size-for-All scenario. Look at the cases individually.

    EE shows some patterns that a coaching staff likes to snuff right away in a young career. His worse pattern is discouragement and self-doubt. Coupled with his shyness (notice how rarely he is quoted?) and the fact he’s still just 23 and still learning, you pick your spots with him.

    I thought his benching last year was justified. And I think the benching this year over the batter’s box thing wasn’t just about that incident, but some patterns of regressions in other areas. Remember, EE has a pattern of mental lapses (or laziness) every once in a while.

    Benching him this time was a reality snap. See?

    With Phillips, Narron is right about the end result of the play. You let Hatteberg, Conine and Billy Hatcher crawl his ass about ‘boating it.

    I’ve been in a clubhouse a lot around Conine and he’s not gonna wait for permission to set people straight. He’s the hardest-working, most professional, most atuned and respected guy around. He’s all class and he’s all pro. And he goes about his business and the business of young players in a way the public will never see.

    He’s an awesome guy to have around and he’ll jerk a knot in Phillips if he gets a little full of himself.

  11. Mr. Redlegs

    Bill, your argument about benching for defense is too general. When EE was benched last year it was just defense, but the way by which he was going about correcting his problems. They were working with him on his arm slot and foot work but he wasn’t applying it. After a while, you send his ass to the pine and see if he gets it.

    With Freel, he’s barely played the position since last summer. He didn’t play one inning at 3b in the spring. Give ’em a break.

    He’s got really terrific 3b skills. He’s quick, got a rocket arm and has really nice balance and footwork. His problem is he’s a terrible insta-thinker and hurries.

    They have this saying in pro sports about “slowing down the game.” That’s not exactly about speed, but deliberation and pace where you can process and manage the playing of the game. Freel simply can’t slow down anything and 3b is a position where you have to react naturally, quickly and accurately. This is not always Freel’s best points.

  12. Bill

    You can always find reasons or excuses for justfiying a double standard…I see a double standard by Narron. Whenever he wants to prove a point, it’s at the expense of EE…but others (Freel, Phillips, Griffey, etc) get away with the same offenses for “reasons”.

  13. Chris

    All that makes some sense, except for two things:
    (1) You always read about what a hard worker EE is.

    (2) Narron himself said that this was the very first time EE had dogged it. “One thing Eddie’s never done here is he’s never dogged it. It was an honest mistake, but it was a mistake.”

    So, this stuff about EE not working hard, or being lazy, is just nonsense. As for him not being quoted much, he speaks Spanish!! If anything, Phillips is the guy with the bad reputation.

  14. preach

    Not hustling out of the batters box is not the same thing as not moving out of the batters box. Yes, Phillips should have been running hard, but he did turn it on and end up with a triple. You don’t get three bases without some type of hustling. Had he not ended up on third I would hope Jerry would have set him down. It is an individual thing and when you are dealing with a team, especially a professional group of millionaires, your standards are different. Perhaps Conine or Hat did come to Jerry after he set down EE and expressed handling it in a different way and maybe that is what happened. We don’t know. I also don’t think that the EE situation was just about him, but was used to send a message. Unfortuanately he had to be the messenger.

  15. Mr. Redlegs

    EE has mental laziness, not physical laziness, although his boo-boo in the box–as explained–is one of those patterns with him when he gets down on himself. Mental laziness.

    As Barney Fife would say, “nip it, nip it in the bud!”

  16. Chris

    Well, that’s my point – Phillips didn’t get the message, either. Enforcing a rule one day, then ignoring it afterward makes it look like a double-standard. And Narron’s quotes on the different days are really contradictory.

  17. Mr. Redlegs

    Bill, you think too hard on this stuff. It’s pro sports. Honest to God, these people and these situations are not as conspiratorial or complex as you are dreaming. Upclose, they are simple as can be.

  18. Mr. Redlegs

    Chris, the overhwleming majority of Hispanics in baseball understand English with excellent aptitude and some, like Mo Rivera, claim they don’t speak English so they don’t have to deal with the media, but they speak it just fine.

    Especially when it comes to two things: money and food.

    Specifically, EE can communicate in English–when he wants.

  19. GregD

    You don’t get three bases without some type of hustling.
    Being fast Hustling.

  20. GregD

    That was supposed to read “being fast is not the same as hustling”.

  21. jimb823

    Well the younger guys on the team have a wonderful verteran like Griffey setting the example for them. Griffey has perfected the art of turning an extra base hit into a single by standing slightly outside the batters box and watching the ball until he knows positively for sure if its a home run or not