CINCINNATI (AP) — Scooter Gennett’s tan bat leaned against his locker, the sweet spot streaked by its historic connections. The ball from homer No. 4 was off somewhere getting authenticated and marked. His cellphone was jammed with 270 texts of congratulations.
And the diminutive utility player — how was he holding up a day after his totally improbable, historically unforgettable night?
“It’s pretty unreal,” said Gennett, who became the first Cincinnati player to hit four homers in a game. “Just being a Reds fan all my life, to be able to do this is just unbelievable. It’s sinking in more and more, but it’ll probably really hit home in the offseason, when I have some downtime. Right now, it’s like a normal day.”
Nothing normal about his last 24 hours. Or his season, for that matter.
The Reds claimed the Cincinnati native off waivers from Milwaukee during spring training, looking to upgrade their bench with a utility player who can do a little bit of everything. He wound up starting in left field on Tuesday night because Scott Schebler needed one more day to recover from a sore shoulder.
Gennett singled home a run in his first at-bat. The next time he came up, the bases were loaded and he worked Adam Wainwright to a full count. Gennett barely fouled off a nasty breaking pitch — flicked it with the very end of his bat — and then homered on the next pitch.
And that was just the start.
He hit a two-run homer, a solo shot, and another two-run homer in the eighth inning of a 13-1 win. Gennett became the 17th major leaguer — and the first Reds player — to hit four in a game. He tied the club record with 10 RBIs. He became the first player to have five hits, four homers and 10 RBIs in a game. And he joined the Cardinals’ Mark Whiten as the only players to have a grand slam among their four homers.
Whew! How does anybody process all of that on the ride home from the ballpark?
“To be honest, I felt kind of normal, just like a normal game,” he said. “I think I’m just wired to deal with it that way. It was kind of surprising, though. I never thought I’d hit four home runs in a game, and to do it and feel normal afterward is pretty crazy.”
He had another swing at history on Wednesday night, a chance to become the first player with a homer in five consecutive at-bats. Instead, he grounded into a double play on the first pitch from Lance Lynn.
The 5-foot-10 utility player had only 38 career homers before Tuesday’s game, with only one multihomer game in his career. Some seasons, he hit little more than four.
He’s thankful that the Cardinals chose to pitch to him in the eighth inning rather than pitch around him. He missed on a big swing against John Brebbia, and then hit the next pitch solidly — leaving one of those streaks on the barrel — for homer No. 4.
“Yeah, that did surprise me a little bit,” Gennett said. “At the same time, they compete over there. The Cardinals are a team that have a lot of respect for this game and playing the game hard and not giving in.”
Afterward, he changed out of his uniform — it’s headed for Cooperstown for a temporary display — did countless interviews, and went home with his wife and a close friend who is visiting. He walked his dog and talked to his parents by phone.
“I’m sure they were both crying,” Gennett said. “My dad (Joe) is a pretty strong guy. To hear him kind of choke up was a little different. I told him there’s no crying in baseball. It was special, for sure.”
He got eight hours of sleep and was back at the ballpark on Wednesday, batting seventh — two spots lower in the order — and playing second base.
While most of his stuff was headed to the Hall of Fame for temporary display, he kept the bat, which he began using on Monday night and ended an 0-for-19 slump. Gennett figured there might be a few more surprises left in the scarred wood.
“I want to keep using it because it’s working for me right now,” he said.
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