Hernandez (Dragons, ’16) is latest Reds cameo pitcher

CINCINNATI — The plug-in of pitchers for cameo appearances continues for the Cincinnati Reds.

If they made a movie about the Reds 2017 pitching staff, some of the pitchers who have been on the 25-man roster would appear in the credits as “Also appearing.”

This time the call skipped Triple-A Louisville and reached down to Class AA Pensacola for 25-year-old 6-foot-4 and 230-pound Dominican righthander Ariel Hernandez.

He replaces Lisaverto Bonilla, called up Friday from Louisville. Bonilla appeared Saturday against the Cubs and pitched five innings, giving up a three-run home run to Jason Heyward.

THAT’S NOT WHY HE WAS dispatched back to the minors, though. It is because he pitched five innings and wouldn’t be able to pitch for three days. And the Reds need long relief coverage for the next three days. Since Robert Stephenson appeared in two straight games he isn’t available.

Why not reach out to Louisville?

“We needed a fresh arm and a lot of our roster guys at Louisville — Sal Romano, Barrett Astin and Austin Brice — all pitched in the last couple of days and couldn’t help us right now,” said manager Bryan Price.

Price and his staff Hernandez some in spring training after he started last season at Class A Dayton (18 games, 0-1, 2.59) and 25 games at Class A Daytona (3-1, 1.75).

“We saw arm strength and breaking pitches,” said Price. “It is a huge arm, every bit of 95 to 100 with a power curveball. He has been throwing it over the plate, which is a big challenge for a lot of young hard throwers.”

Price said he is available to pitch an inning or two Sunday against the Cubs and it will give him a dose of what the big league experience is all about, “Just like Astin and Jesse Winkere did for a day or two. It could be, but it is unlikely it is a long stay for Ariel.”

And this is for and from the what-it’s-worth department. A National League scout reported that the Hernandez curveball has the highest spin rate of any pitcher in baseball. Question: Can he get the curveball over the plate and avoid bats?

POOR DEVIN MESORACO can’t catch a break. Oh, he can catch all the fastballs and breaking balls anybody can throw, but he can’t catch a break as far as injuries go.

“Devin got smoked in the knee on a tag play at third base,” said Price of Mesoraco’s rehab assignment with Class AA Pensacola. “It isn’t serious. But there was a bunt play and he circled back to cover third and a guy slid into third base and hit him on the inside of the knee. So he is a little banged up, but he caught the rest of that game and caught the next day. So it is a little bit sore.”

Price doesn’t believe the knee is a setback, but he wants to see Mesoraco’s swing lock into place. He is hitting .169 for 39 plate appearances.

“The hits aren’t the most important thing, but our staff liekd the quality of his at bats in his last start,” said Price. “I’d like to see that progress because when he comes up here he will take on a time share with Tucker Barnhart and I’d like him to be comfortable at the plate. I think he is physically fit and ready to go, except for that little soreness in his knee.”

Best guess for Mesoraco’s resurrection? Next Friday in St. Louis.

SCOOTER GENNETT is a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none for the Cincinnati Reds these days, but he is working hard to master all the trades — second base, third base, right field, left field.

He played right field Saturday and encountered difficulty trying to flag down a line drive hit by Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta that ended up as a run-scoring triple.

On Sunday, Gennett was scheduled for left field as Adam Duvall took a day of rest. Just before game time, shortstop Zack Cozart was scratched from the lineup, so Jose Peraza moved to short, Gennett was placed at second base and Patrick Kivlehan was placed in left field.

Gennett has three identical gloves lined up on a bottom shelf of his clubhouse locker, all a light tan, but all three different sizes. The smallest is for second base, the next biggest is for third base and the largest is for the outfield.

USUALLY EVERY BIG LEAGUE infielder was a shortstop during the embryonic stages of their baseball career and many signed as a shortstop only to move.

Third baseman Eugenio Suarez signed as a shortstop. Former third baseman Todd Frazier signed as a shortstop. Second baseman Jose Peraza signed as a shortstop. Former Gold Glove second baseman Brandon Phillips signed as a shortstop.

And Gennett?

“A lot of us played shortstop in amateur ball,” he said. “I played short and second my first year of pro ball, but we had Alcides Escobar at the time and they said, ‘Why don’t you move to second?’ Then they (Milwaukee) signed Rickie Weeks Jr. and traded Escobar and I’m thinking, ‘What’s going on?’ But that’s kind of how it works.”

And Gennett played second base for the Brewers until this year when they decided to move Jonathan Villar to second and put Gennett on waivers, which is how he ended up with the Reds.

“That’s why it is important that you get work everywhere, because you just never know where they might put you,” said Gennett. “That’s why they have guys like Ben Zobrist. Wherever they put me, I’m down for it.”

WITH THE EARLY SUCCESS of pitcher Amir Garrett, ESPN put together a video showing him both pitching and making thunderous dunks while playing basketball at St. John’s University.

“Yeah, everybody does that that all the time,” said Garrett of the dunk footage. “That’s back in the day. That’s old news. It’s time to turn the page on that. No mas.”

As Garrett says, you don’t need slam dunks on a pitching mound and instead of blocking shots you throw strikes.

REDS PITCHING PROSPECT Tyler Mahle pitched a perfect game Saturday night for the Class AA Pensacola Blue Wahoos, beating the Mobile BayBears, 1-0. He struck out eight and needed only 89 pitches (68 strikes) to retire 27 straight.

The 22-year-old righthander, a No. 7 draft pick in the 2013 draft, nearly pitched a perfect game last year for high Class A Daytona, but hit a batter.

After his perfect game, Mahle is 4-and-0 in four starts this season with a 0.68 earned run average.


A maintenance man was cleaning the press box early Sunday morning when his two-way radio piped up with a message from the man’s boss: “We need to fix a toilet paper dispenser in the handicap stall in a men’s restroom. Did I ever tell you I hate Chicago Cubs fans.”

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