UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave after a weekend in Atlanta visiting my nine-month old granddaughter, Payton Kennedy (P.K., for short) and doing what granddads do — spoil the heck out of her.
The Cincinnati Reds are desperate to find a starting pitcher to work Game Three of the upcoming season. Amend that. The Reds right now are merely desperate.
They already had dispatched righthander Robert Stephenson to Triple-A Louisville, but they brought him back to the big club Monday night to face the Milwaukee Brewers.
IT WASN’T PRETTY. It was downright plug ugly. The Reds, though, pulled out a 9-8 victory with a run in the bottom of the ninth on a double by Joey Votto, his fourth hit, and a single by Brandon Phillips, his third hit.
Stephenson, the team’s No. 1 prospect as assessed by Baseball America, walked the first three hitters he faced. In three innings he walked five and four scored.
The final tally was three innings, five runs, two hits and five walks. Stephenson also committed a two-run error on a short roller to the mound on which he threw toward home and missed catcher Devin Mesoraco by three quarters of a mile.
SO THE SEARCH continues. Raisel Iglesias will pitch on Opening Day and Brandon Finnegan will pitch Game Two on Wednesday. They are still search for a warm body to pitch Game Three on Thursday. Alfredo Simon will pitch Game 4 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
How about Anthony DeSclafani? He is nursing an oblique strain joining, the long gray line of indisposed pitchers like Michael Lorenzen and Jon Moscot and, of course, Homer Bailey won’t be ready until mid-May.
AFTER THE BREWERS took a 3-0 lead in the first inning, the Reds tied it in the bottom of the first with three of their own, two on a single by Mesoraco, who is hitting .438 this spring. Joey Votto homered in the second, his third, to give the Reds a 4-3 lead, but Stephenon’s two-run throwing error put the Brewers back in front, 5-4.
ON THE PLUS side, the Reds also are desperately searching for viable options for the bullpen and Drew Hayes may be one of the answers.
The 28-year-old right hander struck out the side in his first inning and gave up no runs and one hit in his two innings. Over eight innings this spring Hayes has given up one run over 10 innings.
Hayes, a No. 11 draft pick in 2011, spent most of last year at Class AAA Louisville, was 4-4 with a 2.96 earned run average in 47 appearances.
And here is a guess as of this minute as to the makeup of the Reds bullpen: Closer J.J. Hoover, set-up Jumbo Diaz, Tony Cingrani, Pedro Villarreal, Ross Ohlendorf, Keyvius Sampson and Hayes.Sampson pitched another scoreless inning Monday night and had not given up a run this spring in six games over seven innings. But he gave up two runs in his second inning of work Monday.
OFFENSIVELY, the Reds had four runs and six hits in the first inning, then had only one more hit through seventh until getting four runs and four hits in the eighth, including a two-run single by Juan Duran and a two-run single by Billy Hamilton, who was 0 for 4 at the time. That hit lifted his average to .167.
Hamilton’s hit gave the Reds an 8-7 lead and Villarreal had two outs and nobody on in the ninth. But he issued a walk, Duran lost a ball in the lights and a bloop over Villarreal’s head plopped onto the infield grass for a 75-foot infield hit that scored the tying run to make it 8-8.
Votto had four hits and is batting .391 and Brandon Phillips contributed three hits to lift his average to .348.