CINCINNATI — Manager Bryan Price calls it, “The Great American Success Story.” And Alejandro Chacin isn’t even American.
The 23-year-old pitcher from Maracay, Venezuela was plucked from the Class AAA Louisville Bats roster Wednesday, along with pitcher Luke Farrell, a son of Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell.
To make room, the Reds designated for assignment beleaguered and bewitched pitcher Blake Wood and optioned outfielder Phillip Ervin back to Louisville.
“It’s really a great story because Chacin has been a guy so unheralded, a guy who got to the big leagues completely on merit. It really is the American way. He has earned everything that he has got,” said Price. “Nothing has been given to him and I admire him for it.”
CHACIN WAS SIGNED WHEN he was 16. He spent two years with the low Class A Dayton Dragons (2013-14) and recorded 30 saves.
Then at Class AA Pensacola in 2016 he was 5-2 with a 1.78 ERA and 39 saves. He was a Southern League All-Star, a Baseball American Class AA All-Star and an MLB.com organizational All-Star.
“He has earned his way up at every level,” said Price. “He starts in somebody’s bullpen as a middle guy and he ends up pitching end-of-the-game high leverage situations as a closer or set-up guy. He is a multi-inning guy. He has the repertoire to enable him to get out left handed hitters. He has earned every promotion because he has performed at every level. It’s a good message.”
FARRELL, 26, IS A starting pitcher the Reds picked up off waivers a few days ago from the Los Angeles Dodgers. In two starts at Louisville he was 0-and-2 with a 19.06 ERA.
For now, he’ll be used out of the bullpen in long relief.
“He made his major league debut and appeared in one game for Kansas City and was claimed by LA and then we claimed him,” said Price. “He is the right guy for now as opposed to bringing up Rookie Davis or Cody Reed or Amir Garrett or Jackson Stephens.
“Instead of putting them in our bullpen we feel they are better served working on their game in Louisville,” Price added. “Some of them will be here in September if they continue to work.”
AS THE SON OF JOHN FARRELL, who has managed at Toronto and Boston and coached at several stops, Luke Farrell is familiar with the inside of a major league clubhouse.
With a year that has seen him pitch in Omaha, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Louisville and now Cincinnati, Farrell said, “There hasn’t been any unpacking.”
His one major league appearance was a start this year for the Royals — 2 2/3 innings, five runs, seven hits, three walks and a home run — an inauspicious debut.
“It has been quite a merry-go-round for me,” he said. “Right now I just want to go day-by-day, the best way I can look at it.”
Of his debut, he said, “I think every player goes into that game with a lot of nerves. Exciting as it is to have one, it’s almost good to be done with it and get back to the business of playing baseball.”
And of his experience hanging around clubhouses with his father, he said, “Yeah, but it is different when you have your own locker and you are here to perform and not just hang around.”
ERVIN WAS IMPRESSIVE in his short stay with a couple of home runs and a game against the Cubs in which he homered, had three hits and drove in four runs.
“We knew Phillip Ervin was going to get back to Louisville to get at bats (until the September call-ups),” said Price. “We have Jesse Winker, who is not getting enough at bats. And it would be impossible to get two guys enough at bats and playing time in August.”
Wood has been unreliable since the All-Star break. In his last two appearances he faced 13 batters and 10 reached base — one inning, nine runs, seven hits, three walks.
“We didn’t have an options left on Woody and he is perfectly healthy so so the DL was not an option,” said Price.
“It was unfortunate because he has been our most durable reliever the last two years. He has taken the ball every time I’ve handed it to him, quite often after pitching two innings the day before.
“His recent struggles, though, made him vulnerable to this situation,” Price added. “The bulk of his work in 2016 and 2017 was pretty positive. So I’m disappointed this had to happen because he is a great, great guy.”
That, though, is baseball. What have you done for them lately?
HOMER BAILEY TOOK batting practice with the pitchers Wednesday afternoon, swinging from the heels. Obviously, his back is OK after leaving Tuesday’s game after three innings with some discomfort in his back.
Is he OK?
“I was fine yesterday,” he said. “But why take chances? That’s what I told Bryan — I’m OK, but I feel something and why take chances? I could have stayed in with the way it felt, but what if it gets worse?”
Bailey remembers feeling pain before his three surgeries but he was encouraged to pitch through it. “And look what happened?” he said, showing the scars on his right arm from three surgeries.
Bailey had given up no runs, one hit and one walk with two strikeouts in his three innings against the Cubs Tuesday and left with a 3-0 lead.
“I felt good and things were going goood,” he said. “I’m getting very close and I’m going to pitch the rest of the year.”