Injured Starters: A litany of bullpens and flat grounds

CINCINNATI — It isn’t like ‘The Missing Man’ formation for the Cincinnati Reds pitching rotation. They couldn’t fly a missing man formation because they are all missing — Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani, Raisel Iglesias, Jon Moscot, Michael Lorenzen.

So where are they right now and what are they doing, other than spending a lot of time with the trainers and team doctor?

Manager Bryan Price has a Cal-Berkeley eduction but who can blame him when he says, “I go through all these things all the time and I get them a bit mixed up.”

Nevertheless, here is Price with today’s update and he said it all patiently, sometimes checking a chart on his office wall:

DeSCLAFANI: “Played catch today and a bullpen session is pending in the next few days so it isn’t unrealistic to believe we’ll see him back on the mound real soon. His catch on fast ground today looked completely uninhibited. He looked normal.”

IGLESIAS: He will be re-examined (shoulder) Wednesday and we’ll go from there. He is completely pain-free so hopefully we’ll have a throwing program set up and he can start relatively soon.”

MOSCOT: “He threw a bullpen yesterday, 24 pitches off the mound. He’ll throw another one Wednesday (45 pitches). He has been able to do his throwing and it is jus to what degree he can do that throwing before it starts to get irritated (a sore left shoulder, not his throwing shoulder). Knock on wood he hasn’t had shoulder irritation for a couple of days. We envision a rehab outing soon.”

LORENZEN: “He has thrown on flat ground and might throw a bullpen as early as Wednesday. It will be his first bullpen. He has done flat ground work, but nothing off the mound.” Lorenz has missed the entire season so far due to contracting mononucleosis at the end of spring training.

The original plan was to use him in the rotation, although he is perfectly suited as a closer, something the Reds need.

Asked if the plans are to use Lorenz in the rotation, Price said, “We’re just going to get him healthy. Right now we have multiple needs. However, the starting rotation has been getting better in limiting the amount of runs. We’ve had a couple of really good relief outings in two of the last three days and that’s made a difference. But it will be nice to get all these guys healthy and get them back in the mix.”

CATCHER DEVIN MESORACO had his labrum surgery today and the news is negative. He is definitely done for the season.

“The damage was worse than expected,” said Price. “He had anterior and posterior damage to the labrum. It is going to be close to six months of rehab, but we are optimistic that he’ll be ready to go full speed next spring training.”

TALK PERSISTS that maybe Billy Hamilton should give up switch-hitting to concentrate on his natural right side. Price, though, doesn’t see it that way, especially the way Hamilton is swinging the bat from the left side recently.

“In Billy’s case, batting from the left side takes off three-tenths of a second in getting to first base, if not more,” said Price. “On bunts and balls put in play on the ground have a higher probability of him beating them out for base hits. There are a lot more base hits and bunt opportunities from the left side.

“That being said, he has to hit from both sides,” Price added. “We talk about all the things we don’t want Billy to do, but what we do want him to do is hit the ball hard from the left side, don’t feel for the ball, don’t try to shove the ball into different parts of the defense.

“I’m seeing harder contact from Billy and that makes a difference,” Price added. “The defense has to play right on top of him, in every single circumstance. You never see a standard defensive alignment with Billy hitting. So balls coming off his bat with a higher velocity have a better chance of getting through the infield. To hit a ground ball through a big-league infield you have to put something on it. That’s what I’ve noticed from Billy the last few days.”

NOW THAT J.J. Hoover is in Louisville trying to rediscover the art of not giving up home runs, who is the closer? Left-hander Tony Cingrani has two saves on this homestand, the first two of his career. Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf was given an opportunity Saturday but gave up a game-tying home run to blow a save.

“I’m not trying to be, uh, I know I have a word,” said Price. Somebody suggest the word coy and he said, “Coy? Right. Well done. Thank you. It really comes down to if I have Ohly (Ohlendorf) and Tony (Cingrani) for innings eight and nine, I will make a decision on where I feel they are best lined up to pitch.

“I don’t want to lose Tony’s ability to match up with hitters in the eighth (left handers) solely to give him the ninth inning,” Price added. “Ohlendorf gets left handers out, too, and I’m confident with him against left handers and right handers. So I haven’t really defined a closer, but I have defined when I have them both healthy they’ll be the two candidates to pitch the eighth and the ninth.”

ISN’T THIS AN oddity, considering the travails of the Reds bullpen? The Reds began Tuesday night’s game against the Pittsburgh with a 14-19 record. Of those 14 wins, the Reds have won seven by one run.


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