Dusty Baker, the Reds’ manager, understands. One night early in his career, while playing for the Atlanta Braves, Baker was out in New York with his teammates Hank Aaron, Rico Carty and Ralph Garr. They ran into the Mets’ Jerry Koosman, who told Baker he was the toughest out on the team.
“I thought that was pretty hip,” Baker said. “Then he told me it was because he didn’t know how to pitch me yet. It’s all about adjustments.”
For all his struggles at the plate last season, Stubbs still managed 40 stolen bases. He is a former first-round draft pick from the University of Texas, and Baker said he had the skills and aptitude to be an All-Star.
“This guy’s a smart kid,” Baker said. “He was an academic all-American. He can do the New York crossword puzzle in about five minutes. He pays attention, he internalizes some things.
“All anybody ever talks about is the negative. I tell him, ‘Don’t listen to them.’ He’s working on his bunting; he’s working on his approach. We need him. He’ll get there.”
...Early in the count, McClendon said, Jackson is using a slightly wider stance, with the bat touching his shoulder. With two strikes, the plan is to choke up on the bat and widen the stance a bit more, so Jackson can focus on using his hands and putting the ball in play.
“I would be really shocked if his numbers don’t get better this season,” McClendon said.