CINCINNATI — Where is Johnny Cueto? Are his initials TBA? Is it like Where’s Waldo? After the Cincinnati Reds take a day off Thursday, they open a three-game series in Great American Ball Park against the Washington Nationals.
And the listed pitching order for the Reds is: Anthony DeSclafani Friday, Raisel Iglesias Saturday and TBA (To Be Announced) on Sunday.
It is Jason Marquis’ turn but it could be Cueto returning after missing his last start with elbow stiffness. First, though, Cueto had to play catch Wednesday and then he has to throw in the bullpen Friday to see if all systems are go, especially his elbow system.
“We’ll make that decision on Sunday,” said manager Bryan Price. “We are waiting on Cueto and Jason Marquis is a bit banged up. It isn’t anything he can’t pitch with, but he is banged up as well.
“Yes, it could be Cueto on Sunday but we have to wait until Saturday to see how he gets through his bullpen session,” said Price.
IT IS A SMALL sampling, only three or four games, but Price likes what he sees with Billy Hamilton batting ninth, behind the pitcher, instead of leadoff.
“I like it just because it takes a little bit of pressure off him from being the mandatory table-setter as a leadoff guy,” said Price. “He provides great defense every day. So now the offense we get from him batting ninth becomes a bonus instead of an essential. There is a big difference there.
“I just love having him in center field because his defense is a game-changer,” Price added. “It takes a little bit of heat off him, for sure. For the few games we’ve done it, to me it is a better-looking lineup right now.”
BRANDON PHILLIPS, slowed by turf toe, was out of the lineup for the second straight day and there was a method to it.
“If he pinch-hits today (Wednesday) and helps us, that’s terrific,” said Price. “But with an off day Thursday that gives him three days to really let that toe cool off. My concern is that it might become a nagging thing throughout the course of the season. I’d like him to get over the hump with that injury and three days of rest might make more of a difference than a one-day rest.”
MICHAEL LORENZEN was near-perfection in his Tuesday start against hefty-hitting Colorado — one run, two hits, three walks, three strikeouts in seven innings.
After the game he said, “For the first time in the big leagues I actually shook off the catcher on a pitch because I had conviction on the pitch I wanted to throw.”
Price smiled when told what Lorenzen did and said, “He shook off the call to get to his high fastball. He worked on that pitch in Triple-A with (pitching coach) Ted Power. Power guys, especially guys like him who pounds the bottom of the zone early in the count, the value of a high fastball late in the at-bat is so important. That’s one of the things he has learned and is trying to put to use.
“With Lorenzen, we are seeing the evolution of a prospect starting pitcher growing into a certifiable big league starter. It is happening right in front of us. It is just like we did with Mike Leake. But it is even more interesting because Lorenzen was a college outfielder and a closer. He wasn’t profiled as a major league starting pitcher.”
FOR THOSE STILL looking for a Father’s Day gift, or a gift for yourself, I will be appearing Tuesday at the Kettering-Moraine Library at 6:30 to speak and sell my book, ‘The Real McCoy.’
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Todd Frazier was in the clubhouse early Wednesday morning after the Reds broke their nine-game losing streak Tuesday and said, “I love getting right back at it the next day for a day game after we win a game the night before. A lot of guys don’t, but I love it.”
When told what Frazier said, manager Bryan Price said, “Well, tell Frazier as managers we like to sleep in after a win.”