CINCINNATI — The world’s tallest ‘Happy Face’ walked into the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse Monday morning.
Todd Frazier spotted him, quickly stuck out his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Todd Frazier. Who are you?”
Frazier knew it was pitcher Sean Marshall and Frazier’s comment emphasized the fact that Marshall has been missing in action so long that it was easy to forget his face.
MARSHALL ALWAYS SMILES, but his smile was broader than usual on this day because he has had a career reprieve.
“I’m the cat that won’t go away,” he said. Marshall was set to undergo his second shoulder capsule surgery last week, a procedure that could be career-ending. But when the doctor began to perform the surgery, he discovered the capsule was fine, no problem, functioning perfectly. All Marshall had was some scar tissue that was impinging his pitching motion and all they had to do was remove that, “And move my biceps tendon over a bit,” he said. Hearing that, Marlon Byrd said, “Oh, yeah, JUST move your biceps.”
Instead of a possible career-ender, the prognosis is that Marshall could be throwing again in a month to six weeks.
“A couple weeks ago my best-case scenario was that I could play catch in six months,” he said. “I was to the point where I thought my arm would never work the way it used to work. I hoped after the surgery that I could throw batting practice to my kids later in life. It was a downer
“NOW I HAVE A SECOND wind after a lot of (negative) thoughts in my head but now I have a chance to come back and that’s a huge breath of fresh air,” he said. “I had a lot of people praying for me and this could be one of those prayers answered and I couldn’t be more excited.”
MANAGER BRYAN PRICE’S latest attempt to pry loose some semblance of offense was a page torn out of the managerial books of Tony La Russa and Joe Maddon — for Monday’s game he had pitcher Jason Marquis batting eighth and center fielder Billy Hamilton batting ninth.
One reason is that if Hamilton batted eighth and the pitcher ninth, if Hamilton got on base he could steal second base so the pitcher, batting ninth, wouldn’t have to bunt him over. So why not eliminate that and have Hamilton bat behind the pitcher? The other reason was that if Hamilton batted eighth and got on base and Price pinch-hit for the pitcher, what happens if Hamilton gets thrown out on a steal attempt with two outs. “That would mean I’ve burned a pinch-hitter without him getting an at-bat, unless I double switched,” said Price.
“This is no science experiment,” said Price. “It just is trying to find a way to create our best offense. It is something we’ll take a look at to see if it will inspire the offense. These are the things you see when a team struggles.”
PITCHER JOHNNY CUETO missed his start Sunday with elbow stiffness and was scheduled to undergo a thorough examination Monday, including a precautionary MRI to make certain all is well.
“We’re giving him the once-over,” said Price. “I feel it was just a little bit of extra stiffness in trying to work the muscles and to get them to loosen up. But we need to do due diligence on this because he hasn’t had total relief and I would think by now he would.”
THERE WAS SOME speculation out there that now that interleague games with Kansas City and Cleveland are over that catcher Devin Mesoraco may be placed on the DL and undergo hip surgery.
Not yet. But he was placed on the 15-day disabled list before Monday’s game.
“He is capable of hitting, but the catching drills did not go well,” said Price. “He came out of them with some stiffness and some soreness we had hoped would be alleviated through his rehab but it wasn’t. We would have like to have his influence in our offense, but it doesn’t look as if he’ll be behind the plate in the near future .”
ON THE POSITIVE side, left handed relief pitcher Manny Parra was activiated off the DL to take Mesoraco’s place on the roster.
“He had two good outings and got his pitch count up in his second outing (at Class AAA Louisville),” said Price. “This could give us a lift there, another left handed option with a healthy Manny Parra. We’d like to get him back to 2013 when he was an impact lefthander in the bullpen, especially not having Sean Marshall.”
PRICE HAS TRIED EVERYTHING but sorcery during the losing streak — a different lineup every day, a different batting order every day. Nothing has worked.
“There are a lot of things going through everybody’s minds when you struggle,” he said. “It is the nature of the beast. This is an environment where the strong survive. If you are not in the fight and willing to battle through it, it is real easy to cave in when you struggle.
“This will pass and we’ll get better,” he added. “When you are in it, it’s tough. You look at us statistically and we just haven’t hit our stride. We have to pick that up in a hurry. We’ve scored seven runs in five games. Why? I wish I could put my finger on it. I can’t. I just don’t get it.”