One of the first moves Pete Rose made after being named manager of the Cincinnati Reds late last season was to put Wayne Krenchicki at third base and bench Nick Esasky.
Esasky had been touted last spring as the power hitter the Reds needed. But he batted only .193 and hit only 10 home runs before going to the bench. His chances of returning to regular status weren't enhanced after the season when he rejected the club's request that he play winter ball.
It took a lifetime .237 hitter, batting coach Billy DeMars and Krenchicki's weak bat and sore back to get Esasky back in the lineup.
A return home to Georgia awakened his bat and Esasky is entrenched at third, for the time being at least.
Esasky, who grew up in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta, was a powerful figure in the Reds' sweep of the three-game series with the Braves.
The 25-year-old right-handed hitter had three singles, drove in two runs and scored two others to help rookie Tom Browning post a 6-1 victory Wednesday. In the series Esasky was 7 for 12, including a home run, drove in four runs and scored five.
Before going home where 17 members of his family attended the series, Esasky was only 1 for 13, having gone hitless in his first 10 at-bats this season.
"I don't know what it is, but I usually hit pretty good here," Esasky said. "Part of it, I'm sure, is playing in front of my family. I needed to start doing something."
Esasky gives much of the credit to DeMars for his rejuvenated bat.
In the early days of spring training at Tampa, DeMars worked with the discouraged youngster to correct a problem. DeMars had Esasky shorten his swing and keep his left shoulder in toward the plate during his swing.
Trying to change his swing, Esasky looked lost in the first few exhibition games. He finally mastered the changes and began to hit. When Krenchicki hurt his back March 29, he was hitting only .209. He's healthy now, but he may have trouble beating out Esasky now.
"I've regained my confidence, thanks to Billy," Esasky said. "It was difficult to make the change, but once I got the hang of it, I was on my way. I feel comfortable now."
Esasky singled home Rose in the fourth inning and later scored. In the sixth, he singled to score Dave Parker and scored on Dave Van Gorder's fly.
Browning pitched a six hitter and went the distance in his second major league start. Browning struck out three and did not walk a batter.
The single by Rose in the fourth was his 4,106th hit, leaving him 85 behind Ty Cobb.
Chicago 5, Philadelphia 4--Keith Moreland had more errors at first base in this game at Chicago than Steve Garvey has in a season.
But Moreland made up for his three errors by driving in four runs, three of them with a double in the seventh when the Cubs scored four times to overcome a 3-1 deficit.
"I think I let in two runs, drove in four and the main thing is we won," Moreland said. "I'm not making excuses. I didn't play well in the field. I was able to make contact on that double and that helped us win the game."
The Phillies are 1-7 and Mike Schmidt, their slugging third baseman, is 1 for 23. Wrigley Field is Schmidt's favorite ballpark, and he usually hits at least one home run in a series here. But one single in 12 at-bats contributed to the Phillies' inability to win even one of the three in Chicago.
New York 10, Pittsburgh 6--Darryl Strawberry and Rafael Santana led the Mets' 13-hit assault at Pittsburgh. Each hit a home run and a double and each scored three runs to give the Mets seven wins in eight games and keep them tied with the Cubs for first place in the East.
The Mets needed all the power they could muster, because it was a night when the Mets pitchers, in particular, starter Bruce Berenyi, had trouble locating the plate. Although he had given up only four hits, he had walked eight and made Manager Davey Johnson extremely nervous.
Doug Sisk was the winner, and he gave up two more walks in 3 innings of relief. Jesse Orosco restored order in the ninth, striking out the side.
Santana's home run was the second of his career. He has played in 88 games.
The teams combined for 21 hits and 15 walks.
Montreal 2, St. Louis 1--Rookie Joe Hesketh gave up a run-scoring single to Jack Clark in the first inning at St. Louis, then retired 17 consecutive batters.
Hesketh gave up only three hits before Jeff Reardon took over in the eighth and registered the save.
Jim Wohlford singled in the tie-breaking run off John Tudor in the sixth. Tudor set up his own downfall when he opened the inning by hitting Andre Dawson with a pitch.