Peraza hitting lower in order — and better — for Reds

Bryan Price believes Jose Peraza can be a dynamic top-of-the-order hitter.

That might eventually be true, but Peraza might be too valuable further down in the lineup to move.

Since being dropped from second to seventh April 30 in St. Louis, Peraza batted seventh in five of the next six Reds games before being bumped to sixth for Saturday’s second game of a three-game series against San Francisco.

Peraza already was showing signs of warming up before the move with hits in three consecutive games, but since the adjustment, he’s extended his hitting streak to a career-high nine games. The second-year second baseman, who took over for the traded Brandon Phillips, went into Saturday’s game hitting .359 with a double and five runs batted in during the streak. He’d boosted his overall average to .265 in 27 games.

“I’ve been feeling good since day one,” Peraza said through interpreter Julio Morillo. “Sometimes things don’t go the way that you want it to. I trust in my hands and the things that I do. Hopefully, now, the hits start coming.”

The Reds won five of the first six games since Peraza essentially traded slots with shortstop Zack Cozart, who’d strung together a modest three-game hitting streak going into Saturday.

“It’s worked out well,” Price said. “We’ve got one of our best on-base guys who’s hitting the ball really well in Cozart, hitting behind Billy (Hamilton), leading into (Joey) Votto, (Adam) Duvall, (Eugenio) Suarez, (Scott) Schebler. I see Jose as a top-of-the-order hitter, but there’s nothing wrong with him sliding down a little bit and getting comfortable down there. Over the course of his career, we’ll see him hitting higher than seventh, but right now it’s a good fit and it’s working well.”

Peraza, who turned 23 on April 30, wasn’t really concerned with where he was hitting.

“The important thing is that I’m in the lineup,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if I’m second or eighth or fourth.”

Brice impresses: Right-hander Austin Brice became the 19th pitcher to work for the Reds this season when he racked up three strikeouts while allowing one hit in two innings of Cincinnati's 13-3 win over San Francisco on Friday.

“He threw the ball great,” said Price. “It’s a different slot. He has a very unique throwing stroke — little bit lower elbow. There’s some deception and very explosive life to his fastball. He came in pounding the strike zone, which really impressed me.”

Brice was recalled from Triple-A Louisville on Thursday when left-hander Cody Reed was optioned to the Bats.

Missing Johnny: Former Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto is San Francisco's scheduled starter in Sunday's 4:10 p.m. series finale. Even though Cueto is 4-1, Price seemed to be looking forward to watching the pitcher he used to mentor when he was Cincinnati's pitching coach.

“The thing that I enjoyed so much about Johnny is he loved his bullpen work,” Price said. “He didn’t just mosey out to the bullpen and kind of labor through a non-specific routine. He always challenged himself in the bullpen. In the games, he never gave into a hitter. He never felt like he was in a bad position. Sometimes you’ll have pitchers who know the easier guy to get out is maybe on deck and they’ll pitch around one guy. Johnny really got after every hitter he ever faced when he was here.

“He loved the competition, never looked over his shoulder into the bullpen and hope somebody would throw him a lifeline. He truly enjoys the art of pitching. He’ll pick guys off first base, which is unique for a right-hander. You’ll see him bunt for a base hit. He’ll put the ball in play as a hitter. He always worked on every aspect of the game. That’s kind of what’s led him to the type of career he’s had.”

Sunday’s unusual start time is due to Cincinnanti’s annual Flying Pig marathon. Fans attending the game should be aware of possible traffic restrictions.

Homer report: Right-handed pitcher Homer Bailey threw 30 pitches Friday during his second bullpen session since undergoing surgery Feb. 8 to remove bone spurs from his right elbow, Price reported.

That was up from the 23 pitches he threw Tuesday. He is scheduled to throw another bullpen session on Monday, Price said.

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