Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart smiles in the dugout after a home run against the Angels on Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

Reds catcher trying to stay busy during baseball shutdown

Clearly, Tucker Barnhart hopes Major League Baseball’s novel coronavirus-induced hiatus ends soon.

At the same time, the Cincinnati Reds catcher understands that it never hurts to have options.

While languishing in his Indianapolis-area home waiting for the pandemic to pass, Barnhart is honing his golf and cooking skills while he and his wife, Sierra, await the birth of their second child.

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“She is due at the end of July,” Barnhart said on Monday during a conference call with media. “Hopefully, we’ll be playing and a lot of this will be behind us. She had an ultrasound at 20 weeks, and I was able to go. They screened us. When we got to the women’s center, they asked us a bunch of questions and took our temperature and we had to wear masks. That was two weeks ago. A lot has changed since then. Hopefully, there won’t be a lot of changes for labor and delivery. If we get to a point at the end of July and we’re still dealing with what we’re dealing with, as it stands now, I will able to be in the delivery room, which is a major plus for me and the stress and anxiety level of my wife. It’s definitely helped us a lot.”

Quasi-quarantine regulations make it difficult for Barnhart to get out on golf courses, but he’s coping.

“I’m negotiating the tile and carpet in my basement while I’m chipping golf balls,” said the former switch-hitter, who throws with his right hand but is strictly a left-handed golfer. “When all is said and done and I’m able to get out on the golf course, I should be pretty damn good. We’ll see.”

When he’s not in the basement with a club in his hand, Barnhart is likely to be found in the kitchen wielding a spoon or knife, creating dishes that he sometimes posts on Instagram. He watches the Food Network like sports fans watch ESPN or do-it-yourselfers check out HGTV.

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“Having a show on the Food Network would be awesome,” he said. “Food is my getaway. Whenever I’m stressed or whenever I’m just trying to kill some time, I am likely in the kitchen trying to do something. A lot of times, I’ll find a recipe maybe on the Food Network In the Kitchen app, or in a cook book. Then I’ll omit something or add something that maybe I like or maybe I think could do the recipe good. I made a red wine reduction (Sunday) that was absolutely awful, so I won’t be doing that again.”

Speaking of food, the Barnharts hope to continue “Takeout Thursdays” in which they buy gift cards for local restaurants near their home and in Cincinnati. They’ve bought gift cards for as much as $500 and allowed patrons to draw off the cards – usually in increments of up to $25 – to help pay for meals

“It’s something that’s been pretty cool to be a part of and feed people, and just kind of maybe take some stress off some people just for one night during a very, very stressful time,” Tucker said.

Somebody wondered if Sierra was starting to get tired of having him around all the time.

“She should be,” he said with a laugh. “I’m like a little kid. I can’t sit in the house for very long. We’re very much self-isolating ourselves, but sometimes, I feel like, ‘Ya know, let’s hop in the car and take a drive.”

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