CINCINNATI — This is something for Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Steve Delabar to chew on while he searches for the longitude and latitude of home plate. In his Tuesday appearance in Cleveland against the Indians he walked five of the six guys standing in the batter’s box and he walked in four runs with four straight walks.
If Delabar checks the season pitching line for Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw he will discover that Kershaw has walked four hitters. Four hitters all year. Four of the 254 batters he has faced this year.
Of course, Steve Delabar is no Clayton Kershaw, but who is?
THE LOUISVILLE EXPRESS continued to run almost daily round trips to and from Cincinnati. The latest sojourns were made Wednesday by relief pitchers Jumbo Diaz and Keyvius Sampson, recalled from the Louisville. And infielder Jose Peraza was sent back.
Both Diaz and Sampson started the season with the Reds but were sent back to refine their pitches, especially when it comes to location. And, please, do away with the home run pitch.
“We’re temporarily out of the American League DH situation so we have the need for an eighth bullpen guy because I may have to consider pinch-hitting in the pitcher’s spot,” said manager Bryan Price.
“Keyvius has been stretched out, pitched six innings once this month, so he can give us some length,” said Price. “Keyvius and Jumbo have been the most reliable guys in Louisville. They went down there and did what we asked them to do and that was perform. And they’ve done that.
“They both went down there and satisfied our criteria, which was to command their stuff, throw off-speed pitches over the plate with some command and get back to really pitching instead of trying to manage games with marginal command.”
DIAZ SAID ONE of his adjustments was to throw his change-up a little softer, deliver it with a wider speed gap from his fastball.
“The same thing happened to me last year, I didn’t throw the ball very well in the first half,” said Diaz. “I worked on my change-up and I threw the ball down there very well. I’m pitching the same way, I just told Teddy (Louisville pitching coach Ted Power) that I am just going to have fun and pitch the ball the way I want. And everything is working right. I was having fun, I’m comfortable and I was getting them out.”
SAMPSON WAS TOLD the same thing as Diaz — throw strikes and command the zone.
“I went back with a game plan and a mindset, knowing I had to do everything I could to get back here,” he said. “To do that I had to control my fastball and throw my sliders and curves for strikes. It was all about getting mentally prepared and focused and to be able to turn the page if something bad happened.
“When I was up here before when I gave up a walk and a home run it gets into your head a little bit and you start wondering and questioning things,” he said. “I have the stuff to be here and I had to go refine it.”
PRICE AGREES about the abilities and the stuff possessed by both Diaz and Sampson.
“As much as we talk about giving up home runs and walks, the real issue is we struggle to cluster quality pitches. It is a matter of being able to regionalize pitches. There is nobody here on this staff who we talk about who does not have the stuff to pitch at this level and be successful,” said Price. “But the ability to command that stuff has been the biggest challenge.”
WHEN PERAZA was obtained from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the three-way trade that sent Todd Frazier to the Chicago White Sox, the plan was to trade Brandon Phillips and install Peraza at second base. Phillips tossed sand into the lubricant by invoking his no-trade clause.
The Reds want young Peraza to play every day, which is why he ended up in Louisville. And he had a two-day cameo appearance Monday and Tuesday before returning to Louisville.
“He is an athlete, a kid who stays through the middle with a hard contact approach and has athleticism, speed and energy,” said Price. “We saw a glimpse of the future.
“When he gets here (and stays) it should be in a circumstance where he gets to play regularly,” said Price. “And that may not be in one place — shortstop, center field or second base. He needs to be a regular in our lineup and that may also include left field. There has to be an opportunity for him to float to different positions to play five days a week or it has to a situation when he has an every day spot at one of those positions.”
ANTHONY DeSCLAFANI threw a bullpen Tuesday and worked a couple of simulated innings in his sludge-like progress from a spring training oblique injury.
He threw two innings of 20 pitches each, “To get his workload up,” said Price. “He had absolutely zero concerns about his oblique and right now isn’t even thinking about it. The next step is some live batting practice.”
Sometimes the day after an injured pitcher works he feels residual pain, something he didn’t feel when he was throwing the day before.
THAT WASN’T THE case with DeSclafani, who said, “I feel solid today. It feels good. I don’t think there is anything. It has to be all healed and day after day it feels good.”
Asked if he is anxious to go out and pitch, DeSclafani smiled and said, “Naw, I think I want to stay on the DL just a leeee-tulll bit longer. Yeah, I’m anxious, looking forward to getting back out there.
“I’m not even thinking about the oblique and that’s a good thing,” he said. “I warm up and then I throw and I’m not even concerned that it is going to bother me and I think that’s a good sign that it is healed up.”