CINCINNATI — When it comes to stealing bases, Billy Hamilton owns the Pittsburgh Pirates in a way he owns no other team.
For his career, ‘Run Billy Run’ has swiped 36 bases against the Pirates, 16 more than against the next highest team on his list, the Chicago Cubs (20, for the mathematically challenged.
No manager does more studying, more homework, more preparation than Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. And it is for certain he and his staff check out every step Hamilton takes, every move Hamilton makes.
ASKED BEFORE MONDAY’S game if he worries about Hamilton, Hurdle quickly said. “I don’t worry. We work and I pray. I’m serious. I do not worry. It does no good to worry. Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it doesn’t get anything done. We come up with a plan. Try this.
“There is one we still haven’t used that we may deploy here, sooner than later,” said Hurdle. “It involves something that I don’t know if we’re ready to try, but I’ve seen it back in the day when Willie Wilson (Kansas City) and Vince Coleman (St. Louis) were playing. It may be time to look at it.”
The best way to stop Hamilton, of course, is to keep him off base and Hurdle acknowledges that and said, “If you look at the numbers he has hit the ball well against us, better than he has against other teams and that puts him on base. You start there first.
“The thing is if you pay too much attention over there (Hamilton on base) you lose focus a the plate,” Hurdle added. “Then you get hurt worse there (at the plate). I played with two teams with that type of speed and it does change the dynamics. It makes guys itchy on the mound and it makes fielders itchy. It is a unique challenge.”
REDS PITCHER JOHN Lamb, who left Sunday’s game after five innings with a strained left thumb won’t make his next start, but it won’t necessitate another emergency starter for the Reds. With Thursday off, manager Bryan Price can just adjust his rotation and insert Dan Straitly, “Or even Alfredo Simon or Tim Adleman.”
Lamb injured his thumb at the plate when he was jammed with a pitch. His left hand will be immobilized for a couple of days before he tries to play catch Wednesday.
“It is definitely better today,” Lamb said before Monday’s game. “But it is still sore so it is a little bit of both worlds. It is muscular, not a tendon or ligament, so that’s optimistic and I was happy to hear that.”
OF THE INCIDENT, Lamb smiled and said, “I was jammed. Weak hands. I hate to take all the accountability for that. He got inside on me and I didn’t recover when I got out to the mound for the fifth in time to throw a fastball.”
WITH LAMB’S INJURY, the Reds were forced to scramble again. They recalled right handed pitcher Layne Somsen from Class AAA Louisville and sent outfielder Kyle Waldrop back to Louisville, just one day after he was called up.
Somsen is a relief pitcher and gives the Reds an eight-man rotation for the time being.
“We’ve had some recent short outings by the starters and our bullpen has been used a lot, so it is that time to have an eight-man bullpen,” said manager Bryan Price.
“Somsen has some deception in his delivery and he has a nice three-pitch mix with his fastball, curveball, changeup,” Price said of the 26-year-old 22nd-round draft pick in 2013 from Sioux Falls, S.D. “He has been a multiple-innings guy, anywhere from the second inning and third inning, which gives us value at this point. He gives us length and has also pitched in the back end of some games at the Triple-A level.”
IT IS ALWAYS a sad tale when a kid is called up from the minors then gets sent back a day later without even getting into a game, which is what happened to Waldrop.
“That wasn’t the intention and I told Kyle that when we sent him out,” said Price. “We hoped to have him here for a couple of weeks and maybe get him a start or two. But I don’t want him sitting here for a month or six weeks picking up two or three pinch-hits a week. That won’t help his development. The experience here helps, but playing here helps more and playing every day in Triple-A helps more.”
FASTBALLS, REALLY fast fastballs came up in a conversation with Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle.
“A fastball less than 100 miles an hour comes to the plate in the blink of an eye and 100 in less than a blink of an eye,” said Hurdle. “I grabbed some data on Nolan Ryan because I’ve been getting some noise from people saying, ‘You didnt have guys throwing 105miles an hour like when Aroldis Chapman was here (with the Reds).’ Well, back in the day, this Ryan guy? I don’t know what the guns were reading but I believe it was 105.”
IN AN EFFORT to boost our GoFundMe account for gas, my friend and driver, Ray Snedegar and I have come up with some offers we hope some of you can’t refuse. Check it out on halmccoy.com, but the offers are below. You have to go to halmccoy.com to take advantage of them.
Here are some fund-raising ideas we hope some of you like (or not).
FOR A $200 donation to the GoFundMe account on this page, Ray and I will have lunch (at your expense) at a restaurant of your choice anywhere in the Dayton-Cincinnati area and you can bring as many friends as you want.
FOR A $200 donation to the fund Ray and I will hand deliver to your place of business or your home (in the Dayton-Cincinnati area) a personally-signed autographed copy of my book, ‘The Real McCoy, My Half Century Covering the Cincinnati Reds.’
FOR $400 and permission to sell my book at your function, I will speak for you at an event of your choice in the Dayton-Cincinnati area.
If you are interested in any of the above, please make the donation and leave a message giving your e-mail address and/or telephone number so we may make arrangements.
Thanks so much and hope to hear from a few of you.