CINCINNATI — Trying to get Anthony DeSclafani to break into a broad smile is the same as trying to get the Mona Lisa to break into a broad grin.
It isn’t going to happen. The Mona Lisa is a painting and Anthony DeSclafani is too serious. But he also has been seriously good at his job, which is retiring major league hitters.
There were raised eye brows and head-shaking that registered on th Richter when the Reds traded pitcher Mat Latos to Miami for DeSclafani, owner of five major league starts and two major league wins at the time of the trade.
So who is smiling now? Well, not DeSclafani. You’ll see barely a grin from the 24-year-old 6-1, 192-pound right hander.
“I was up-and-down between the Marlins and the minors last year and it was a bit of a struggle for me,” he said. “I’m taking a very serious approach to what I am doing this year.”
He was 2-and-0 with a 0.68 ERA in his first three starts. And he gave up only on earned run in five innings Sunday against the Chicago Cubs, but two errors in the fourth inning led to four unearned runs and an undeserved defeat to the Cubs.
REDS MANAGER BRYAN Price loves what he sees from the guy born in Norm Olmstead, OH.
“When it is game day, work day, it is all about job at hand and he has very little to say during the game,” said Price. “It is, ‘Yes sir, no sir,’ with very little dialogue. For me, that’s great. I don’t need to be having long discussion with the starting pitcher in the middle of a ballgame.
“He is very focused and it is all about the task at hand, going out there and being aggressive,” said Price. “And as a young pitcher he knows his place is to have eyes wide open and ears wide open and mouth securing shut, and he is doing a nice job of that.
“HE IS REALLY a good kid, a very nice kid,” Price added. “He fits in beautifully. He is not a guy incapable of having a thought or opinion, he just shares it at the right time.”
Asked if DeSclafani is, ‘The Silent Assassin,’ Price laughed and said, “Yes, very much so.”
A writer who also covered several Cleveland Indians spring training guys said DeScalafani’s personality reminds him of Corey Kluber, the American League Cy Young Award winner last year.
“I don’t know Corey other than watching him pitch well,” said Price. “But I love that comparison and we’ve seen some similar things over Anthony’s first three starts this season.”
A VETERAN NL SCOUT’S opinion on the three best National League pitchers he has seen over the last few years: “I’d put Clayton Kersshaw (Dodgers) first, Matt Harvey (Mets) second and Johnny Cueto (Reds) third. But I’d take any of the three after giving other teams the first two choices.”
WITH SATURDAY’S rainout, Price was able to adjust his pitching to a more satisfactory situation than it would have been without the rain.
Anthony DeSclafani was scheduled to pitch Saturday, but pitched Sunday. It is Johnny Cueto’s turn to pitch Monday, but Jason Marquis will make that start and Cueto is being pushed back a day until Tuesday.
“Johnny Cueto threw 125 pitches in his last start in Milwaukee,” said Price. “So it doesn’t make any sense to keep him on his regular turn when he could use the extra day of rest. We ask a lot of Johnny and we certainly asked a lot of him last year and he answered the ball.
“Cueto did more than his job in his last start in Milwaukee, throwing 125 pitches in eight innings, we couldn’t ask any more of him and he deserves that extra day,” Price added.
BY THE SAME token, Price is moving Homer Bailey back from Wednesday until Thursday afternoon and Mike Leake will pitch on his regular fifth day Wednesday.
“That gives Bailey an extra couple of days just because he is still on the rehab process of building his endurance after missing most of spring training and bouncing back from his surgery. It just makes sense,” said Price.
AFTER HEARING the two dreaded words,
Disabled list,’ far too many times last year, Price shudders to even think about it this year. But how about Devin Mesoraco?
He hasn’t been able to squat to catch for nearly two weeks and still isn’t close to being able to do that. Distabled list?
“Right now he can be a contributor as a pinch-hitter,” said Price. “Unless we get into a situation where we need a player who can do more than solely pinch-hit, he will continue to do his rehab in preparation toward getting back behind the plate.”
“It will be a few more days before we will be able to kick the tires on Devin getting down into the crouch to do some catching,” said Price.
“At this point he can still contribute as an offensive player. And it can be a very valuable role. We are hoping to avoid even mentioning the disabled list with Devin.”
REMBER SEAN MARSHALL, the big left hander who was so effective in the eighth inning two years ago. Well, the eighth inning is a major disaster area for the Reds this season, but don’t look to see Marshall on the mound any time soon.
His shoulder just isn’t responding and Price gave a quick and terse answer when asked about him. Any progress?
“Not really,” he said. “He hasn’t made great progress. He hasn’t thrown for a few days now.”
End of discussion.