CINCINNATI -- For the seventh season in a row on Mother's Day, the Reds joined Major League Baseball in breaking out the pink.As part of an initiative for breast cancer awareness and prevention, Cincinnati's players wore pink wrist bands, pink ribbons and second baseman Brandon Phillips even wore pink spikes. Some members of the lineup used pink-colored bats on Sunday as well, including Phillips, Drew Stubbs, Jay Bruce and Wilson Valdez. "I'm just happy to be supportive of that movement," Stubbs said.
The pink bat tradition started in the Majors on Mother's Day 2006 and has since become one of the league's signature efforts in the battle against cancer.
Costanzo enjoying first callup after long journey
CINCINNATI -- One day after his first big league callup at 28 years old, Reds third baseman Mike Costanzo was still feeling shocked, happy and any other positive adjective you could think of."All of the above," Costanzo said Sunday morning. "A lot of emotions are running around in my head. It's been quite a journey for me. I'm ecstatic about being here." Costanzo, who was not on the 40-man roster before his promotion from Triple-A Louisville, was called up to replace the injured Scott Rolen after he went on the 15-day disabled list. Costanzo pinch-hit in the fifth inning on Sunday and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. A native of suburban Philadelphia, Costanzo was a second-round Draft pick of the Phillies in 2005. There were plenty of twists and turns since, like the offseason after 2007, when he was traded twice in one month. First, he went from the Phillies to the Astros in a deal that involved Michael Bourn and Brad Lidge. Then, Costanzo went from the Astros to the Orioles in a deal that sent Miguel Tejada to Houston. In April of 2010, the Orioles asked Costanzo to switch to pitching, and he was released after he refused. He spent two weeks playing independent ball in Camden, N.J., but he did not consider giving up on the game. "I love baseball," Costanzo said. "Definitely being 28 and in Triple-A the last five years, going to indy ball and doing all of that stuff, it makes you wonder sometimes. Never did I want to stop playing." The Reds signed him in May 2010 and he's alternated between Double-A and Triple-A each of the past three seasons. In a combined 34 games this season with Louisville and Double-A Pensacola, Costanzo batted .303 with six homers and 24 RBIs. He will be a left-handed bat off the bench. "I saw him in Spring Training a couple years ago and I said, 'I like you.' He can stroke it," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "How come he hasn't played at a higher elevation for a longer period of time? You always want to see someone reach their goal no matter what age they are. " It's taken Costanzo eight long years to achieve that goal, which has made the moment all the sweeter. "A lot of guys never get the chance. For me to get it, it's been unbelievable," Costanzo said. "The best feeling was when I called my parents. It was awesome. They're on a flight from Philly."
Baker wants hitters to be more aggressive
CINCINNATI -- The Nationals have the top pitching staff ERA (2.60 entering Sunday) in the National League. Their pitchers have stung the Reds repeatedly this season, and manager Dusty Baker has had enough."You've still got to hit them," Baker said. "I'm tired of tipping my hat to whoever is out there. How many days can you tip your hat? When I first got to the big leagues, I remember I asked Orlando Cepeda, 'Is it like this every day?' He said, 'Every day.' That's what he told me, and that was my big awakening. "I was always taught that that dude over there has had three or four days to rest and just figure out how to get me out. I had less than 24 hours sometimes to go from one bad dude to another bad dude. That's a welcome to the big leagues. I'm not giving them too much credit." Cincinnati has been held to two runs or less by Washington in four of the previous six meetings. Overall, the Reds are ranked 13th in the NL with a .236 average and are tied for sixth in team strikeouts (258). Baker believes that the strikeouts weren't from being too aggressive, but not aggressive enough on quality pitches. Too often, in the manager's mind, the pitcher has had strike one. "You want to attack that fastball," Baker said. "That's what we have to start doing as a unit. Everybody is asking, 'How come this guy is swinging at the first pitch sometimes, or do you want him to take a pitch?' We're taking fastballs and they're getting ahead of us.
"I don't know where people get that from, [asking], 'Why do you swing at the first pitch?' Especially with runners in scoring position, they're going to get ahead of you. There are only one of two things they can do to you, they either run at you and get ahead, or run from you and hope you chase them. If you don't, then they have to run at you."
Shortstop Zack Cozart was not in the lineup on Sunday vs. Washington. It was just a day off for Cozart, who was replaced by Wilson Valdez."Every time I give him one, he comes back better and stronger," Baker said. "It's not as much as giving Cozart a day as it's giving Valdez a day, too. With 20 [games] in a row, I'll have to give everyone a day somewhere along the line."