CINCINNATI — Call them The Three Muskeeters or The Three Amigos or The Three Coins in a Fountain.
Just don’t call them The Three Stooges, because they are far from it.
The Cincinnati Reds are starting three straight rookie pitchers this weekend against the Washington Nationals — out of necessity because Homer Bailey is on the disabled list, Johnny Cueto has inflammation in his elbow and Jason Marquis is having difficulty retiring major league hitters.
SO FOR THE next three days it is Anthony DeSclafani, Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen against a power-packed Nationals batting order.
“I am very confident that the three pitchers who will start this series will be staples of our pitching staff in the years to come from what I’ve seen from these three kids,” said manager Bryan Price. “There is development that is taking place and if they all settle in for the future, well, I think we’re seeing our future a little early. I know there is some education to come and they’ll learn some lessons along the way.”
CATCHER BRAYAN PENA, always a Picture of Positive, is anxious to help with the maturation of DeSclafani, 24, Iglesias, 25, and Lorenzen, 23.
“We know this was coming sooner or later because those guys have so much talent and they deserve this shot,” said Pena. “I know all three are ready for the challenge and we trust them. We believe in what they can do.”
Pena is impressed with the professional makeup of each one and sees similarities in all three of the right handers.
“I love the way they handle themselves, they way they go about their business, they way they encourage themselves,” said Pena. “They are similar in that they all like to compete, they prepare very well and they all believe in what they can do, that they belong in the big leagues.”
Pena says all he can ask of them is that they pour 100 per cent out of their bodies and that all three do exactly that.
ASKED TO GIVE A quick evaluation of each one, Pena provided a strength of character and strength of talent for each one.
DESCLAFANI, acquired in the off-season from the Miami Marlins in a trade for pitcher Mat Latos: “I love his courage. I’ve never seen anybody with more courage on the mound that that kid. He never backs down from any challenge. I love to see that from him.
IGLESIAS (signed after he defected from Cuba, as did Pena): “Expectations. He has so much expectations for himself. He expects to be good, to be a great pitcher in the big leagues. That’s all he talks about. He says, ‘I want to show them they didn’t make a mistake when they signed me and how much I appreciate the opportunity they’ve given me.’ Because of that, he expects a lot of himself.”
LORENZEN (a first-round lottery pick, 38th overall, by the Reds in 2013): “He is very positive. He really believes that he is here for a reason, that God put him here to do something special. You have to respect that, you have to love that. It doesn’t matter how good he does or how bad he does he believes in himself. He has fun and enjoys what he does, but he is a very special kid. He is exciting to watch and he is positive, always positive.”
JOHNNY CUETO thought he might do a bullpen session Friday and pitch Sunday. He played catch Thursday and it was decided to hold him back.
“He felt better when he played catch with (pitching coach) Jeff Pico, but we have to make sure all the inflammation is out of there. It looks more likely he’ll start somewhere in the Philadelphia series (in Philadelphia Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday).”
SHOULD THERE BE concern? Maybe. If Cueto can’t answer the call in Philadelphia then alarm bells should be clanging at ear-splitting decibels.
“With that inflammation in the elbow getting him on the mound won’t let that subside,” said Price. “He is chomping at the bit to get out there but there are a couple more steps he needs to follow.”
BRANDON PHILLIPS and his turf toe were absent from the lineup again Friday, missing their third straight start.
“He was in Thursday on the off day getting more treatment and he says it feels better,” said Price. “For anybody who saw that last game he started, he was really banged up. We’re trying to get him in the best possible position to play so nothing hinders him over the course of the season. We’re giving him one more day so that there is a high probability this won’t be a chronic thing. He can pinch-hit or play, if needed, but one more day will pay us dividends in the future.”
AT LEAST THE Reds have a knack for getting the opposing team out of their doldrums. The San Francisco Giants were 17-17 after losing their first game to the Reds. They then won three straight from the Reds are 12.3 since then. The Cleveland Indians were 16-22 when the Reds showed up and the Tribe recorded a three-game sweep and are 6-3 since the Reds arrived.
IS THERE A better baeball show on television than MLB Central on the MLB Network? It is, by far, my favorite. The subway-railroad theme is terrific, the stage settings and the off-beat interviews and video clips are fantastic and former major league infielder Mark DeRosa and Matt Vasgersian are outstanding hosts.
TWO BOOK SIGNINGS this coming week, a chance to buy ‘The Real McCoy’ in time for Father’s Day. On Tuesday (June 2) it will be at the Kettering-Moraine Library on Far Hills Avenue at 6:30. On Wednesday June 3 it will be at the Fort Recovery elementary/middle school, 865 Sharpsburg Road in Fort Recovery at 6:30.
Check out Reds Weekly this week (it will beon several times before Reds games on Fox Sports Ohio) for a suberbly done segment on the book and check out Sports of All Sorts Sunday night on WCPO-TV (channel 9) with John Popovich. The entire half-hour show is about the book.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Manager Bryan Price, asked about Washington slugger Bryce Harper: “We only play these guys two series a year and I’d probably have a better opinion on a player from the Central division than I do from the East. I know he is always in the highlights. He has been in the highlights the whole month of May. He is a very talented guy.”