Fay: Behind Gennett's 'surreal' feat, a humble attitude and commitment to the team

CINCINNATI -- Scooter Gennett's historic night was brought to you -- at least partially -- by Brandon Phillips.

If the Reds hadn't traded the old No. 4, Phillips, they almost certainly would not have picked up the new No. 4, Gennett.

What Gennett did Tuesday night was ridiculous: Four home runs, a single and 10 RBI. He's the first Red and the 17th player in history to hit four home runs in a game.

WATCH Gennett's homers in the video player above.

"It's surreal, man," he said. "I'm truly blessed. To be from here, to be born here, watching all those guys play when I was little. To do something that's never been done. I can't put words on it. It's an honor for sure."

Tuesday was a once-a-generation game, but what Gennett does on an everyday basis is fill a very important role that Phillips would have never accepted: Utility man.

"It comes down to the right attitude," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "This is a guy who is used to playing more than he's playing here. And he's accepted the role and he's thrived in it."

Fans cheer Scooter Gennett after his fourth home run. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Gennett started in left field Tuesday night. It was Gennett's third start in left. He's made nine at second base, four at third base and three in right field.

If Phillips had stayed, he would have shared second with Jose Peraza, forcing the Reds to figure how to get Peraza enough playing time to continue his development.

Gennett's bat has been invaluable as well. He filled in for the injured Scott Schebler on Monday and gave Adam Duvall a day off Tuesday. Both days, Gennett's bat basically won the game. Overall, Gennett is hitting .302 with  seven home runs and 30 RBI in 116 at-bats.

Gennett is also content with his role.

"It was an adjustment for sure," he said. "But Bryan's given me the opportunity to play multiple positions and play against lefties. That's huge for a guy that's on the bench to get consistent at-bats. I thank him for that."

Eugenio Suarez (7) congratulates Scooter Gennett after Gennett’s second home run. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Phillips would not have been content. He sees himself as an everyday player. The Reds accommodated him by trading him to his hometown Braves so he could play every day.

Instead of being grateful, Phillips ripped the Reds and called giving his number to Gennett "a slap in the face."

Gennett thinks he's an everyday player, too. He played every day for the Milwaukee Brewers before they placed him on waivers, opening the way for the Reds to pick him up six days before Opening Day.

But, again, he gladly accepted the role the Reds offered.

"Nobody would say this guy is a utility player," Price said. "However, for our team, he fills a void we needed to fill. He's doing a sensational job of it. How many teams have a guy they can just put in the line and they hit four homers.

"Apparently, it's just the Reds."

Price laughed when he said that.

MORE reaction to Gennett's record night.

That's what Gennett did, too, when he got to first after his fourth home run.

"I kind of laughed," Gennett said. "It's crazy. It's amazing. It's a little short of a miracle. Baseball's an amazing game. From 0-for-19 to four home runs in a game."

Gennett was, indeed, on an 0-for-19 coming into his last at-bat Monday. Since then, he's 6-for-6 with with four home runs and 12 RBI.

"It's crazy, especially when you think of a guy like me -- not a huge guy," said Gennett, who is listed as 5-10, 185. "That's baseball. It's not how big and strong you are, it's how efficient you are. And sometimes lucky."

The Reds would tell you they're lucky to have Gennett.

John Fay is a freelance sports columnist; this column represents his opinion. Contact him at johnfayman@aol.com.

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