CINCINNATI — The Ghost Ship Mesoraco is sailing along on calm seas, awaiting a summons to its port of call in Cincinnati.
Questions about Cincinnati Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco abound from fans, most of whom ask, “Will he ever be able to catch regularly again after a couple of hip surgeries.”
Mesoracro has appeared in only 37 games the last two season and started only 19. At the moment, he is on ‘special assignment’ in Pensacola, Fla., trying to pass protocol to return to the Reds roster.
MANAGER BRYAN PRICE SAYS the team has a list of three points Mesoraco must reach before he is activated.
Asked how Mesoraco is doing, Price said, “Good. He is doing great. I’m in touch with (Pensacola manager) Pat Kelly after every outing. He is feeling good.”
Mesoraco is going to catch nine innings on back-to-back days, take a day off, then catch back-to-back games again and then be assessed, probably by the middle of next week, perhap Wednesday.
“We have a check list of three boxes he has to check off before we’ll know he is ready,” said Price.
ONE: “Durability. How does he feel after the back-to-back nine ninnings? Is it realistic to think he can catch three games in a row without having setbacks or issues?”
TWO: “How does he feel behind the plate and how is he moving behind the plate? It isn’t just how he is feeling physically. Can he get his feet out from under him to block pitches, being able to move laterally to get out of his stance to throw.”
THREE: “How does he feel at the plate? Does he feel he is seeing the ball well and is his swing where it needs to be?”
WHEN MESORACO RETURNS, the Reds have a major dilemma — what do they do with catcher Stuart Turner?
With Tucker Barnhart on board Turner would be the No. 3 catcher and can the Reds afford to keep a third catcher on a four-man bench?
Probabluy not. But Turner is a Rule V player, meaning the Reds must keep him on the 25-man roster all season or offer him back to the Minnesota Twins for $25,000. The Reds paid the Twins $50,000 to get him in the Rule V draft.
“We haven’t talked about that,” said Price. “All I will say to that is that we don’t want to lose Stuart Turner. I like what Stuart does. He is a kid who can help us in the organization and he can play at this level right now. He doesn’t need a lot more seasoning. However, in a three-catcher system it would be hard to get him playing time. We’d have to find a way to go with a five-man bench in order to keep him.”
SO WHAT IS THE latest on pitchers Anthony DeSclafani and Homer Bailey? Both are in Goodyear, Ariz., working their way back.
Bailey is throwing baseballs 180 feet, the last precursor to getting back on the mound. But don’t look for him to return by June 1.
“His schedule will be flexible — either to pick up the pace or back off,” said Price. “We are not going to rush him to be ready by June 1. That isn’t realistic. His throwing protocol took a step back when he got sick in spring training. He missed time and lost a bunch of weight and that set him back at least seven to 10 days. It is more realistic to look for him in the second half of June.”
DESCLAFANI HAS NOT THROWN a baseball yet and Price said he will undergo an MRI before he does to make certain the healing process is complete.
Bailey and DeSclafani may show up in Cincinnati, but it would be brief and inconsequential.
“If they come up from Arizona for a week or a homestand it would be just to break up the monotony of being in Arizona,” said Price. “It wouldn’t be to be under the watchful eye of the major league staff. They have so far to go before they’ll actually be able to compete.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY
For some reason, a quality start was determined to be six innings and three or less runs, which is a 4.50 earned run average. That’s good? A 4.50 earned run average.
“I saw a pitcher needs to go seven innings to get a quality start and I’ll never change my mind,” said Reds manager Bryan Price.
Back in the day, a 4.50 earned run average would get you a free ticket back to the minors or release papers, “But nowadays it is acceptable,” said Price.