CINCINNATI – Anybody remember a guy named Anthony DeSclafani? Tall guy? Beard? Pitched for the Cincinnati Reds?
Yeah, sure, tall and with a beard pretty much describes every pitcher on the Reds staff and most pitchers in the major leagues these days.
DeSclafani, though, was supposed to be Something Special this season. After missing most of the first half of last season with oblique problems, he went 9-and-5 with a 3.28 earned run average in 20 second-half starts.
With Homer Bailey expected to start this season on the disabled list, DeSclafani was the early pick to start Opening Day and to be the face of the Reds pitching staff.
ALAS ANOTHER KICK IN THE solar plexis. Elbow miseries struck in spring training and DeSclafani was placed on the disabled list and has seldom been heard from this season.
And now. . .a sighting. When Bryan Price was asked about him Monday morning, the Reds manager broke out a broad and toothy grin.
“Yesssssss! Yeah,” said Price. “He is going to throw a couple of simulated innings Tuesday. Then on the 23rd (Sunday) he will pitch three innings in the Arizona Rookie League.
“But one leads to the other and he has to get through tomorrow,” Price added. “If he gets through both those, we will put him on a five-day pitching schedule to work his way back here.”
Price watched DeSclafani throw on the side last week when the Reds were in Arizona and was pumped up.
“It was really impressive and encouraging,” he said. “He threw beautifully, very encouraging.”
OF COURSE, EVERYBODY IS going to be on the upbeat about DeSclafani’s return, just as they were with Homer Bailey. But, like Bailey, too much shouldn’t be placed on DeSclafani’s early results after missing half the season.
Bailey had two atrocious starts when he came back, then had two outstanding starts, then regressed Sunday, giving up eight runs, eight hits that included a couple of home runs to Daniel Murphy over four innings.
After the game, Price watched video of Bailey’s short stay on the mound and detected some issues.
“Sometimes you can just see a crispness in a pitcher’s delivery,” said Price. “In his previous two starts by Homer there was a crispness in which everything was right that provided quality to pitch execution. It wasn’t there Sunday.
“I could see early that he threw a couple of splits that cut (a splitter shoudn’t cut), that tumbled down and in to lefties. I saw some sliders well-thrown and well-executed, some of them, and some that just kind of spun. I think it was mechanics-based. It is a matter of getting re-acquainted to game situations so it is second nature. There is still a period of time where he is finding his way with his delivery.”
NOT MUCH POSITIVE CAN be taken away from a 14-4 stomping like the one the Reds took from the Washington Nationals Sunday afternoon.
Believe it, there was one. Jesse Winker made his first major league start that didn’t involve the designated hitter tag to his name. He batted five times and reached base four times — a single and three walks.
“Oh, man, he was terrific,” said Price. “He was just terrific. He knows the strike zone (hence the three walks). He put the barrel on the ball a couple of times and the best one was when he made an out — a bullet he hit to the left fielder.
“It was strike zone command, getting on base, hitting the ball on the barrel. That part was fun to watch and it was especially good for him to get that experience.”
AND WINKER’S REWARD probably will be another trip down I-71 to Louisville, a return to the Class AAA Louisville Bats.
The Reds will need a roster spot Tuesday for pitcher Sal Romano. And if that one doesn’t get Winker, then the return of catcher Devin Mesoraco probably will.
Mesoraco will play Monday night at Class AAA Louisville on rehab assignment and play another game Tuesday. Then he will be evaluated.
“It is a strong possibility it will be a short stint in Triple-A,” said Price. “Time will tell. We’ll see how he gets through catching a couple of games and having some at bats.”
THE REDS ARE LOOKING to see if any soreness remains in his left lat
“If there is soreness there, that would be a concern,” said Price. “I don’t know the genesis of the soreness, but it was exacerbated when he reached on the backhand side for a pitch. This will give him an opportunity to catch some pitches that are yanked to his backhand side, making him reach. Every catcher has to reach for a pitch on his backhand side that is thrown with intent and anger. That will be the test he has to pass.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Most fans and observers believe the quickest way for a manager to get ejected from a game is to spice up a discussion with an umpire with some mouth wash words, some f-bombs. Not so, says manager Bryan Price. He says there is one thing that will get immediate ejection without using a single swear word.
“One thing that will get you thrown out right away is to go out there and say, ‘Hey, I looked at the video and you missed the call.’ You can’t do that. That’s worse than saying, ‘You’re a – – – – -.’ Once you say, ‘I looked at the video,’ you’re gone.”