CINCINNATI — For some reason, it was Talk About Pitchers Day in Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price’s office before Wednesday’s game. And a lot of pitcher’s mound ground was covered.
One question was an obvious one, one that fans are asking, even after the Reds won on Opening Day, 5-2.
What they don’t like is that Johnny Cueto didn’t get the win after pitching seven scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts.
What they don’t like is that new pitcher Kevin Gregg pitched the eighth innng with a 2-0 lead and gave up a two-run home run to Andrew McCutchen to tie the game and rob Cueto of a victory.
What they want to know Is: Why not Aroldis Chapman? With a 2-0 lead, why not bring closer Chapman into the game in the eighth inning?
AND PRICE WAS asked that question before Wednesday’s game.
“To go in on Opening Day and have all of your bullpen guys fresh and then decide that we’ll do that (use Chapman for two innings) doesn’t make sense. We do have to find our way with this bullpen and our way can’t be doing that. We hope to be in a lot of those situations this year (two-run lead in the eighth) and that can’t always be the answer.
“There will be days when that might happen (Chapman in the eighth), but I just didn’t think Opening Day was the time for it,” Price added. “We have to settle in with our bullpen and the only way they are going to do that is to go out there and pitch.”
ASKED IF GREGG was still his eighth-inning guy, Price said, “He may be and he may not be. It depends on who is available and who is healthy. Gregg is a guy who has had experience as a closer, a set-up guy and a starter. He has been in a lot tougher situations than he was (on Opening Day) over the course of his career.”
But, that being said, Price added, “The bullpen will be ever-evolving and these guys will cut out their roles by how they perform.”
ALL WINTER LONG the talk was that left hander Tony Cingrani would be in the rotation if things went right this spring. Things went very right for Cingrani, but early in camp he was assigned to the bullpen.
“He will do any number of things for us,” said Price. “He is stretched out and has a history as a starter. He could do some middle-length innings and he could come in and be a guy late in the game. He is a guy who historically hasn’t got hit a lot, but last year we didn’t get anything out of him because he never had the stuff he showed on Opening Day and spent a good portion of the season on the disabled list. It was a wasted year without a great deal of growth.
“Pitching out of the bullpen plays to his natural aggressiveness,” Price added. “If he throws well he can find himself in a lot of late-game opportunities.”
ANTHONY DESCLAFANI makes his starting debut for the Reds Thursday afternoon against the Pirates and Price expects big things from the new guy in the rotation.
“I hope to see him pounding the strike zone with quality stuff,” said Price. “He always has been a strike-thrower. You can’t evaluate your pitchers if they don’t throw it over the plate. He is a naturally aggressive and competitive kid so I think he’ll attack the zone and make the necessary adjustments to give us a good ball game.”
HOMER BAILEY, residing on the disabled list, pitched, “really well, the equivalent of five innings with 75 pitches,” Price said of Bailey’s simulated game Tuesday in Goodyear, Ariz.
Bailey reported to Great American Ball Park Wednesday and is scheduled to pitch in a minor league game on April 12, probably in Louisville if weather permits. If that goes well, that would put him on schedule to make his 2015 debut with the Reds on April 17 in St. Louis.
QUOTE OF THE DAY “If every day was like Opening Day, with all the folderol and pomp and circumstance, this job would be much more challenging.” — manager Bryan Price.