Duffy takes pride in outfield defense

Duffy takes pride in outfield defense

CINCINNATI -- Chris Duffy doesn't mind playing defense. In fact, he kind of enjoys it. Actually, it's his pride and joy. Even Duffy, though, didn't think he had enough time to make what turned out to be an outstanding, highlight-reel grab off the bat of Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan in Wednesday's game against Cincinnati.

"To be honest with you, I didn't think I'd be able to get there," Duffy said before the Brewers fell, 6-5, to the Reds Thursday at Great American Ball Park. "I was playing him on the shortstop side, and the ball had a little tail to it. But the ball seemed to hang up there for a little bit, and the closer I got, the more I thought I had a chance at it. Probably the last four or five steps, I thought I had a pretty good shot. I knew it was going to be pretty close. At that point, it was too late to pull up."

So, he dove and made the spectacular catch to rob Hanigan of extra bases. Hey, it's what Duffy loves to do.

"For me, defense is my No. 1 thing," he said. "It seems like in the last few years, hitting has overcome defense, and they'll throw anybody in the outfield if you can hit. For me, I take a lot of pride in playing defense. I know what it feels like to have a hit taken away from you."

Before the season began, Duffy wasn't even sure he'd have the opportunity to play defense at the big league level. He was a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, but after hitting .311 with a couple home runs and 13 RBIs, he made the club (the only non-roster player to do so).

Duffy spent all of last year in the Pittsburgh farm system, shuffling between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis as he tried to recover from the left shoulder surgery he underwent after the 2007 season. He obviously wanted to make the Brewers out of Spring Training, but he didn't put too much pressure on himself to perform.

"Actually, my mindset wasn't to make the team -- I just wanted to play," Duffy said. "Whatever they decided, I was cool with. I think it worked for me. It made me feel like I didn't have any pressure. Being a non-roster-invite guy, there really isn't the pressure on you. Now that I have made the team, now you feel the pressure. I'm just trying to relax."

So far this season, Duffy is still working on reacquiring his offensive skills. In 14 games, he's batting .095 with two RBIs and nine strikeouts in 20 at-bats. Even with his sturdy defense, Duffy is still trying his best to reacquaint himself with Major League pitching.

"It's taking me more time to get readjusted to the big league speed," Duffy said. "I'm coming off the bench and being a pinch-hitter for the first time, and that's pretty tough. The offense so far has been an uphill battle."

Pitching matchup
MIL: RHP Dave Bush (1-0, 4.36 ERA)
Bush breezed through six innings against Arizona on Sunday, allowing back-to-back singles leading off the fourth but nothing else. But he ran into trouble in the seventh inning, when Mark Reynolds and Justin Upton connected for back-to-back home runs to open the frame and No. 8 hitter Miguel Montero connected three batters later for a two-out, two-strike shot that tied the game and cost Bush a shot at his second win. Bush took a no-decision in his April 11 start against the Cubs, when he allowed three runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings of an eventual 6-5 Brewers loss. He's just 1-7 against the Cubs in his career.

CHC: RHP Randy Wells (0-0, -.-- ERA)
This would have been Carlos Zambrano's spot in the rotation, but he was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Monday with a strained hamstring. Wells was expected to be called up from Triple-A Iowa for the game. The right-hander has appeared in four big league games before, but has not made a start. Included in his starts for Iowa was a stellar effort April 22, when he gave up one hit over seven scoreless innings, striking out four.

After going 3-for-3 Thursday night, Prince Fielder is batting .377 in his past 15 games with four home runs and 17 RBIs. ... Micah Owings' triple against Braden Looper was the first three-bagger for a Reds pitcher since Eric Milton hit one vs. the Cubs on April 13, 2006.

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Up next
• Saturday: Brewers (Yovani Gallardo, 3-1, 3.02) vs. Cubs (Ryan Dempster, 2-1, 4.86), 6:05 p.m. CT
• Sunday: Brewers (Jeff Suppan, 2-2, 5.68) vs. Cubs (Sean Marshall, 0-2, 4.15), 1:05 p.m. CT
• Monday: Off-day

Josh Katzowitz is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.