CINCINNATI — There is a thing called passing the torch, but whoever heard of passing the oblique. And what is an oblique?
Anthony DeSclafani is apparently cured of his oblique injury and the word ‘apparently’ is used advisedly because the Cincinnati Reds have heard that word ‘cured’ before.
And if, indeed, he is cured, he has passed the injury onto fellow starter Tim Adleman, who was afflicted early in Thursday’s 7-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians and is now on the disabled list, where all Reds starting pitchers seem to land.
SO WHAT IS AN oblique, something baseball people never heard of until a decade or so ago. A Google search says: “A muscle neither parallel nor perpendicular to the long axis of a body or limb.”
OK, so that almost clears that up, right?
What it means to a baseball player, according to Reds manager Bryan Price: “Something with which you can neither pitch nor hit.” Price said the first time he heard the word oblique was back in 2004 or 2005 when he was pitching coach in Seattle and catcher Dan Wilson injured his. And, of course, Johnny Cueto was knocked out of the World Series last year with an oblique injury when he pitched for the Kansas City Royals.
AS HE TALKED ABDOUT DeSclafani, who hasn’t thrown a pitch in anger since spring training, Price said, “These injuries we’ve had are just stunning stuff, just stunning to see this for three years.”
And it is why over his three-year tenure as manager, his first job as manager, Price has not had a chance to show if he can manage or if he can’t manage. He has not had an equal opportunity to match wits and pieces with opposing managers.
IT WAS DRIZZLING steadily Friday afternoon when DeSclafani threw three simulated innings on the Great American Ball Park mound — what, you expected sunshine to beam down on the unfortunate DeSclafani? He threw 45 pitches and declared himself ready to go out on minor-league rehab. And where have we heard that one before?
“I felt good, but I feel like I say that every time,” said DeSclafani. “Everything went well and this should be the last time, knock on wood. I hope to get back here soon. I don’t even think about it (the oblique) when I’m doing bullpens or throwing or BP. I am able to focus on mechanics and feeling good about my mechanics, making sure my pitches are working.
“This is it,” he said with insistence. “I’m not thinking about the past or the other times. It is not a factor any more and I can just keep progressing now. Everything was as good as it possibly could be today for not throwing off the mound a lot. It’ll get better as I get more repetitions and get into a game situation and get some adrenaline.”
Price said the plan for DeSclafani is pretty much the way it was a couple of weeks ago when he had his setback, “Three rehab starts to stretch him out and prepare him to join us.’
MEANWHILE, THINGS weren’t as upbeat in the clubhouse where Adleman stood in front of his locker and played Meet the Press.
Asked about how long he expects to fight the oblique battle, Adleman said, “I was told to listen to my body, even if you think you should be back a certain day, a day the doctors tell you, if you aren’t absolutely sure you are 100 per cent it would be time to keep resting it, keep treating it and keep icing it.”
His oblique bit him, if obliques can bite, in the third inning of a 2-2 tie with Cleveland.
“That was very difficult to have an in-game situation like that,” said the pitcher who the Reds found two years ago pitching for the New Jersey Jackals of the independent Canadian-American League. “You put the team and the bullpen in a tough spot, but it is something completely out of your control. You never plan to come out of a game like that.”
As of now there is no indication or announcement as to whom will take Adleman’s next scheduled start Tuesday in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. Bull penner Keyvius Sampson is a possibility after he was stretched out while he pitched at Class AAA Louisville
IN OTHER roster shuffling, a daily ritual with the Reds, outfielder/first baseman Steve Selsky, a non-roster player, was brought up from Class AAA Louisville and pitcher Drew Hayes was designated for assignment.
Selsky, 26, was a 33rd round draft pick by the Reds in 2011 out of the University of Arizona. He was hitting .275 with one home run, 10 doubles and 11 RBI.
“He is an extra position player who has been a real nice offensive player in our system,” said Price. “He is healthy now and had a tough time staying healthy through the years (he’ll fit right in)but he is a heck of player who will help us as an early-game bench bat.”