CINCNNATI — Billy Hamilton owns six stolen bases in his first three 2015 games. And that’s all good for the Cincinnati Reds. What’s all well AND good is that Hamilton is 6 for 6. He hasn’t been caught. Nor has he come close to getting caught.
And that’s what pleases manager Bryan Price the most about his wing-footed center fielder and Havoc Honcho.
“His speed isn’t any better nor is his ability to read the pitchers and get jumps,” said Price. “What he is doing is making better decisions on when to go. He is taking all the intelligence information we provide him and he puts it to use.
“Most of the league is going to try to slow him down by having the pitcher be quicker to the plate (with slide steps) and throwing over a lot,” said Price. “So really it is all about picking good spots on which to go. He needs to take what is given to him and not force things that aren’t there. That’s where he has greatly improved.”
AFTER SWEEPING THREE games from the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Reds face the weekend challenge of the ogres of the division, the St. Louis Cardinals.
When asked about it, Price hesitated a bit and fumbled for words, which he seldom does. Then he said, “It is what it is. I hate to use that term because it sounds so cliché. But we just want to continue to play good baseball and we have to be successful throughout the course of the season.
“The Cardinals won the division so, of course, everyone looks at them as the favorite,” Price added. “And we play them nearly 20 times a year because they are within our division. So we have to stay within what we do well and not make it more than what it is. We have three games here that we’d like to win. We can’t make any series any bigger than any other. We just need to go out and play our same game.”
ROOKIE RAISEL IGLESIAS gets tossed to the sharks for his major league debut Sunday when he faces the Cardinals, probably a one-game stand-in for Homer Bailey.
“We are really excited about Raisel and having him in the system,” said Price. “He has to get acclimated to being starting pitcher, transitioning from being a reliever mostly on the Cuban team. But he has the mix of pitches that allow him to pitch deep into games. From stuff, athleticism, competitiveness and things of that nature, to me, he is The Real Deal. But like every pitcher coming to the big leagues he has to find his way.”
So what happens when Bailey comes back? Bailey makes a rehab start Sunday at Class AAA Louisville and if all goes as expected, his next start will be for the Reds.
What happens to Iglesias? Do they stick him in the bullpen or do they send him to Louisville to start every fifth day? Price isn’t tipping his hand yet.
“We’re just going to let him pitch here Sunday and we have to see how Homer does and then define what our best team looks like when Homer does come back. We don’t have to make that decision until Homer is ready to go.”
KEVIN GREGG PITCHED the eighth inning on Opening Day and gave up a two-run game-tying home run to Andrew McCutchen. On Thursday, the eighth-inning guy was Jumbo Diaz and he went 1-2-3 with two strikeouts.
Usually a straight smoke thrower, a fastball pumper, Diaz dazzled the Pirates with an assortment of sliders.
“He had a real good slider and the way you can tell is by the reaction of the good hitters, like McCutchen (whom he struck out). They were out in front of the slider and that comes down to pitch recognition and not being able to identify a pitch until you’ve begun your swing. A good one breaks away from right hand hitters and his was Thursday.
“I was impressed with the way he threw and he seems to be built for late-game situations and this year more than last he’ll have more of those opportunities?”
And does that means he is in the eighth-inning mix? “He is,” said Price. “Any good team has to have the resources every day to cover the eighth and ninth innings and Jumbo helps give us that.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We can’t use our bullpen up by using a bunch of one-batter lefty vs. lefty and right vs. right matchups or we won’t have a bullpen left by August. A lot of guys are going to have to face both left handed and right handed hitters. There is no way we can operate with an isolation bullpen.” — Manager Bryan Price.