CINCINNATI — Tucker Barnhart peeks from behind his mask at home plate and what he see when pitcher Amir Garrett is looking in for a sign isn’t surprising.
“I see that pesky kid on the basketball court, that guy in pick-up games who won’t go away and sticks to you on defense no matter where you go. He just won’t go away,” said Barnhart.
It isn’t surprising that Barnhart sees that in Garrett because the 6-foo-5 lefthanded pitcher had to be coaxed off a college basketball floor to sign a contract to pitch for the Cincinnati Reds.
NOW GARRETT IS 2-AND-1 IN his first three major league starts and his loss was Wednesday night to the Baltimore Orioles by 2-0 during which he struck out 12.
“And he sort of looks like a basketball player on the mound — all arms and legs with a funky arm motion,” said Barnhart.
“Man, he is something. The main thing about him is that he not only acts as if he belongs out there, he knows he belongs. He doesn’t care what team we’re playing or who’s batting. He know what he is going to do and that’s get people out.”
Barnhart says Garrett pretty much throws what pitch Barnhart requests and listens intently in meetings and follows a game plan.
And then he walks to the mound, draws that ‘A’ (for Amir) on the mound like a kid in elementary school, dares somebody to wipe it away.
JOEY VOTTO SAYS his best friend in baseball is Jay Bruce, “Even though they say your best friend on the field should be the ball,” said Votto.
Votto was delighted when Bruce hit two home runs for the New York Mets Wednesday and drove in all five runs in a 5-4 victory. Bruce is hitting .308 with seven home runs.
After Bruce was traded by the Reds to the Mets at the trade deadline last year he floundered in New York and some thought Gotham was too much for a smalltown guy from Beaumont, Tex. And there was talk the Mets would trade him this winter.
A NEW YORK WRITER CALLED over the winter and asked, “Should the Mets trade Bruce because he isn’t a fit in New York?”
I told the guy, “If they keep him and play him he’ll have a good year.” So far, so great.
“I am so glad to see him play well because I know he had a rough, cold spell when he first arrived there,” said Votto. “But I knew there was no reason why he shouldn’t play well.
“I agree he’ll have a great year and he is certainly off to a good start,” Votto added. “When you get off well it is certainly something to lean on.”
VOTTO KNOWS THE OPPOSITE of that scenario. Slow starts seem part of his DNA but flash finishes are the norm.
Bruce wears uniform No. 19 for the Mets, the same number Votto wears and Bruce says it is to honor his friend.
Votto smiled and said, “You know, I want to say it is half ribbing me. And hal of it is an appropriate number in that they have so many retired numbers. If so, I’m honored because he is certainly my best friend in baseball.
“I get a kick out of watching him because as soon as he does something well he gives me a smirk,” Votto added. “I’m competing against him but I’m also happy for him as a person and as an individual.
“HE HAS HAD A LITTLE bit of a rough spell for three years where it has been hit and miss and people have turned the page on him,” said Votto. “But he made the All-Star team last year which was sort of a full-circle type thing for him. I’m really happy to see him doing well, especially in New York, but for any team because it is a transition and New York is as big a transition as it gets. He is great to be around and has handled himself with aplomb.”
Bruce left his family in Texas when he was traded last year but he is now a true New Yorker. He has his family in an apartment in Tribeca.
DEVIN MESORACO caught back-to-back nine-inning games this week for Class AA Pensacola but the Reds are in no hurry to rush him back.
“We are going to move forward with his rehab and take advantage of the time we have left in Pensacola,” said manager Bryan Price. “We’ll go through this weekend and re-evaluate.
“The plan is for him to play through the weekend and technically his 20-day rehab is up April 25th,” Price added. “We have an off day the 26th and he’d be ready to play the 27th in St. Louis. He is physically ready to play now, but we want him to feel good behind the plate and at the plate.”
Mesoraco is not tearing up Class AA pitching. He has batted 28 times and has four hits (.143), all four for extra bases (a home run, three doubles).
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I’m extremely confident, have not lost confidence whatsoever. I think he can be a sensational player in this league. He has all the tools to be an outstanding player. I probably have more confidence in him than he has in himself.” — Manager Bryan Price, talking about outfielder Scott Schebler, hitting .170 entering Thursday’s game against the Orioles.