CINCINNATI — As bad as it seems, on your worst day, there is always somebody having a worse time. And that’s true in baseball, too.
As bad as it is these days for the Cincinnati Reds, at least they haven’t lost a player for a day because a chicken bone was lodged in his throat.
That happened to the Atlanta Braves, a team with a worse record (11-30) than the Reds (15-27). Braves shortstop Eric Aybar was eating lunch in the visitor’s clubhouse in Pittsburgh when a chicken bone made an unschedule stop in his throat and he required medical attention.
When it was mentioned to Reds manager Bryan Price that none of his players have encountered chicken bones, Price smiled and said, “Not yet. But we’ve discontinued serving chicken in the clubhouse.”
And right after the chicken bone incident, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, a popular and successful manager, was fired. Price still has his job.
AFTER SEATTLE beat the Reds, 8-3, Friday night, Mariners manager Scott Servais was talking about the seven strong innings he received from starter Hisashi Iwakuma.
“You never want to get into your bullpen too soon,” said Servais.
A Seattle writer said, “Yeah, some teams more than others,” an obvious reference to the Reds’ bullpen.
Servais was asked if he is aware of the sinkhole that is the Reds bullpen and he smiled and said, “Oh, yeah. We get the scouting reports.”
REDS CATCHER Tucker Barnhart had three of the Reds eight hits Friday against the Mariners, who shift heavily to the right when the switch-hitting Barnhart bats left handed.
Barnhart poked a single to left to beat the shift and dropped a perfect bunt up the third base line to beat the shift.
“That’s what Tucker does, bunt and slash,” said Price. “And we’re kidding Barney about how his speed dynamic plays so well. His goal this year is setting the all-time record for triples by a catcher.”
Barnhart has one and said, “That might be it for the year. It might be a long time before I hit another triple.”
But it won’t be long before he beats another bunt, if they keep shifting. He has five bunt hits in his career and isn’t afraid to lay one down and flee for first.
“The third baseman was all the way over to the shortstop position, so the confidence I have in bunting dictated what I did,” he said. “The situation was that there were two outs and the pitcher was coming up, so if I can get on that turns the lineup over for the next inning.”
Somebody mentioned that former Reds catcher and now minor league coach Corky Miller once stole home, the only base theft of his career, and Barnhart said, “That’s not going to happen with me.”
REHABBING PITCHER Jon Moscot had a tough night pitching Friday for Class AAA Louisville against Columbus. He gave up nine runs (four homers) and 11 hits. That should come as no surprise to the Reds, who were swept four straight by the Cleveland Indians this week and were outscored, 43-16. Columbus is Cleveland’s Class AAA affiliate.
“I watched the video with (assistant pitching coach) Mack Jenkins and we just watched it roll,” said Price. “The best he had was a good sinker that was running down and in. Beyond that he made a lot of mistakes in the zone that got hit and hit with power. He came out of it feeling fine from a physical standpoint. It was a game where he was hit pretty hard.”
Mentally, it probably was not so good for his psyche. Moscot is rehabbing his non-throwing left shoulder, which he injured last mid-season while diving into second base to make a tag on a rundown play.
“My left arm feels good,” he said Saturday afternoon. “So that’s a good takeaway. I was just up in the zone and they hit me around pretty good. You scratch your head sometimes. You make adjustments. Physically, I felt good. At least it was in rehab and not up here. I’m looking forward to the next one.”
THERE WAS BETTER news emanating from Florida, where three Pensacola Blue Wahoos combined for a seven-inning no-hitter against Jacksonville in Double-A, a 6-0 Wahoos win in the second game of a doubleheader.
Starter Jackson Stephens pitched five innings, Matt Magill pitched one inning and struck out the side and Carlos Gonzalez pitched a 1-2-3 seventh.
Of most interest was the performance of Magill, a 26-year-old right hander acquired two years ago from the Los Angeles Dodgers for outfielder Chris Heisey.
“He is coming back from Tommy John surgery and he is getting better,” said Price. “When he initially got to Double-A he was a little erratic with his command but has settled in nicely his last few outings with consistency from his fastball, slider and changeup. That’s not unusual after Tommy John — yes sir, yes sir — but he is finding his way. It’s good to see because he is a guy we were excited to get in the Heisey trade.”
Magill is a bullpen guy and, let’s see, do the Reds need bullpen help?
WHEN WRITERS walked into Price’s office early Saturday afternoon, he was in a bit of a daydreaming mode, thinking about Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani, Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen, four starters missing from his rotation.
“We’ve gone over the rehab layouts for those four guys,” he said. “Before you guys came in I was looking at the ‘possible’ activation dates for those four pitchers and what that will mean for our club. It would certainly give us a significant lift.
“However, it won’t be until June 10, at the earliest before we see one of them coming back (probably DeSclafani). Homer probably won’t be back until mid-July, but we could possibly see DeSclafani, Iglesias and Lorenzen back in the month of June. Potentially. And that certainly would be a lift to all of us on the club.”