CINCINNATI — They say Anthony DeSclafani is nearly 100 per cent recovered from his left oblique pain. They say.
Nearly 100 per cent or not, DeSclafani will NOT make his scheduled start Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. So he has been scratched from his first assignment, Opening Day, and now his second assignment.
DeSclafani pitched a three-inning simulated game on Wednesday and when manager Bryan Price was asked if he came out of it with passing grades, he said, “He did not. He did come through everything OK, but he is not yet green-lighted to pitch.”
Huh? What does that mean?
“There is no setback. He is not worse,” said Price. “It is just that with all that he has gone through, well, if he does something again to the oblique it could be a really extended period of time missed. We’re so close to feeling that he is 100 per cent we are just not going to take the chance. The MRI shows that it is healing and there is scar tissue, everything is moving in the right direction, but our medical staff and all of us feels as if it is not quite 100 per cent yet.”
The likely stand-in probably is Dan Staily, who is in the bullpen, the only relief pitcher not used in the first three games. Or they could call up Tim Melville from Triple-A Louisville.
ON ANOTHER PITCHING front, Jon Moscot was in the clubhouse Friday after he pitched in Pensacola Thursday and left the game when he started to develop a blister.
“It didn’t tear,” Moscot said after his 63-pitch night. “If it tore it might be an issue. It was something just under the skin that I put a Band-aid over.”
Moscot, on the disabled list with a side issue, said blisters are an every year occurrence for him, “And maybe I should just keep my hand in pickle juice all winter. Every single year, my first start, I get a blister. Almost like to a tee. It is usually on my middle finger, but now it is on my thumb. After that happens, they are always good at toughening up the skin and I don’t have any problems the rest of the season.”
MOSCOT IS ON THE road toward making an April 17 start in St. Louis, the last game of a six-game trip to Chicago and St. Louis.
He is in Cincinnati to be examined by team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek and to throw a bullpen before making his next minor league start for Louisville on Tuesday. He pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings Thursday before he was removed.
“This was just a chance for Dr. Kremchek to check him out and for him to throw a bullpen session here for (pitching coaches) Mark Riggins and Mack Jenkins,” said Price. “We all feel he’ll be ready to make that start April 17. He lost a little skin in the start Thursday and they thought it might be a blister coming so they got him out of the game. It was the right thing to do and he got up to 63 pitches and there is no reason for him not to throw 80 to 85 pitches in that next start.”
AFTER HIS SUCCESSFUL start Thursday, starting pitcher Robert Stephenson was sent back to Class AAA Louisville and is on full notice to keep a bag packed and his glove oiled.
To replace him the Reds brought up veteran 30-year-old first baseman/outfielder Brandon Allen. If he gets into a game it will be his first major-league game since 2012 with Tampa Bay.
“He’ll be a left-handed bat off the bench, a guy who can come in for an early-game match-up,” said Price. “That’s how it will start. He impressed me in spring training and I like his experience and the fact he has done this stuff before.”
In 12 professional season, Allen has played in only 116 major league games with 344 at-bats with a .203 average.
“It has been since 2012 so this is a breath of fresh air,” said Allen, a 6-2, 230-pound from Conroe, Tex. “I’m grateful for every moment of it for as long as I can be here.”
That might not be long because, unfortunately, that’s the way baseball works. If the Reds have to reach down to Louisivlle to get a pitcher for Sunday’s game Allen’s ticket back to the minors is already punched.
“I hope to be productive and help the team out and it is just an honor,” he said. “You can’t take anything for granted because it might be your last at bat. So every chance you get, take advantage and enjoy it, enjoy every bit of it — the grand view of it.”
REALITY CHECK: Yes, starting 3-and-0 is exciting for Cincinnati Reds fans, but think about a couple of things.
ONE — They started 4-and-0 last year with three wins against the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals. How did that work out?
TWO — The three wins came against the Philadelphia Phillies, the only team in major league baseball to lose more games than the Reds last season. And their roster this year looks like a list of Witness Protection Program inhabitants.
THREE — Beginning Friday night against the Pirates, 19 of the next 22 games by the Reds are against teams that made the playoffs last year.
JIM TRDINICH, Pittsburgh’s media relations director, smiled and said of the Pirates’ 3-and-0 start, “The last time we started the season 3-and-0 we lost 97 games.”
HILDA RATLIFF owns Mom’s Restaurant, a fabulous place for hungry man breakfasts and legitimate home-cooked lunches. It’s worth a stop. The place, though, is a shrine to University of Kentucky basketball and UK memorabilia infests the place.
Ratliff wanted desperately for Franklin’s Luke Kennard to play at UK and it was a day of mourning when Kennard signed with Duke. Ratliff now has a sign in a dining room window that reads: “The best of Luke and Duke is ‘UK’ in the middle.”