It’s been nearly three years since Skip Schumaker last played in St. Louis, but there’s still the emotional pull when he returns to Busch Stadium.
“A lot of special memories here,” said Schumaker. “It’s still there–you win a World Championship, you’re always going to have the greatest memories of your life in this stadium. And having your best buddies over on the other side is always great. Until Wainwright and Holliday leave, I think I’ll always be pretty excited to come back.”
Schumaker and his Cincinnati Reds conclude their series against the Cardinals tonight and while the action on the field is first and foremost, Friday’s trade deadline does not escape the players–in particular with Cincy, as they’ve already seen Johnny Cueto dealt away.
“That trade-rumor app, I think everyone’s got it,” said Schumaker. “It’s pretty frustrating. You go into Spring Training and you look at that lineup, you think we’re going to be really good. We lose Mesoraco and Cozart right away, which is tough, but you hear about all these teams that want your guys–you think you’re pretty good then because if seven guys are on the trade block on your team, that means you should be pretty good. That’s what’s frustrating, is knowing the talent we have and didn’t produce.”
Capable of playing all three outfield spots, as well as second base, Schumaker could be a piece in a potential deal. Especially for a team looking for a veteran bat that can come off the bench. Schumaker leads the Majors with 12 pinch-hits this season.
“You just try and embrace that role,” explained Schumaker. “It’s a really difficult job to do–facing usually the closer and they expect you to get the guy into third in a big spot. It’s a tough spot, but I knew going into this season and last season even, the lineup we have–we have an everyday lineup that doesn’t move.”
Brandon Phillips is a 4x All-Star at second with Marlon Byrd, Billy Hamilton, and Jay Bruce starting in the Reds outfield.
“I knew that the pinch-hitting was something I had to do well, or I would be out of the game,” said Schumaker. “We have 60 games left, so I have to keep going.”
Schumaker also provided some insight into the overlooked value of Hamilton–who’s 46 stolen bases lead the Majors, but has a batting average of only .225.
“His defense is off the charts,” said Schumaker. “I don’t think you can ever take the guy out because he saves so many runs in the outfield. I don’t do that UZR (ultimate zone rating) or whatever…I do the eye test and he’s pretty damn good out there. He’s the best I’ve ever seen. I played with Jimmy Edmonds, who was amazing at reading guys and the ball flight, the jumps.”
Asked if he really puts Hamilton at the same level as Edmonds, Schumaker reiterated his belief.
“I do because his speed–nobody else has his speed,” he said. “He can take a bad jump and still run it down. It feels like he’s playing right behind second base, he plays so far in and runs as good as anyone.”
The Reds have a team option on Schumaker for next season.
photo credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports