CINCINNATI — The first thing Chad Wallach did when he was told late Thursday night that he would be wearing a major league uniform Friday night was to call his father.
His dad is Tim Wallach, an excellent third baseman/first baseman who played 17 years in the majors, mostly for the Montreal Expos and some with the Los Angeles Dodgers. And now he is a coach for manager Don Mattingly with the Miami Marlins.
“My dad told my fiancee that he was happier than the day he got called up,” said Chad. “And Don Mattingly told him he would give him a 24-hour pass to watch me play if I am going to start a game.”
After that phone call from Indianapolis, where the Class AAA Louisville Bats were playing, he rented a car and resisted driving as if he was in the Indianapolis 500, and as calmly as he could drove for an hour and 45 minutes to get to Cincinnati.
JUST CALL CHAD WALLACH Mr. Maternity. He is with the Cincinnati Reds because of babies. No. 2 catcher Stuart Turner left after Thursday’s game to fly home to Eunice, La., for the birth of his first child, a son.
No. 1 catcher Tucker Barnhart’s wife is due at the end of this homestand and everybody hopes she can hold off. Just to make sure, though, the Reds called up Wallach, who was not on the 40-man roster.
“The timing was perfect for me, couldn’t have turned out better,” said the 25-year-old No. 5 draft pick by the Miami Marlins out of Cal State-Fullerton, the same school attended by pitcher Michael Lorenzen.
THE REDS ACQUIRED HIM from Miami as part of the trade that brought pitcher Anthony DeSclafani from the Marlins for pitcher Mat Latos. He owns nine home runs at Louisville, but only 18 RBI.
“So awesome to be up here and excited to be able to learn some stuff,” he said. “I’ve stayed in touch with Stuart Turner throughout the season and knew what was going on. But who knew it was going to be me and I’m just thankful it was.”
Although the choices were limited because most of the catching prospects are in the lower minors and none is on the 40-man roster, Price said nice things about Wallach.
“For those of us who have worked with Chad the last few years in spring training, we know he is a very mature kid and our player development people thought he is the most prepared to do this.
“He has familiarity with so many of the guys on our team because of spring training and he already has caught most of our pitchers in Triple-A and Double-A and it helped his cause to get this opportunity,” said Price. “I’d like him to play. He is now on our 40-man roster and is the next-in-line guy in our system. We have some younger guys in the lower levels we like a lot.”
JESSE WINKER BECAME THE latest Reds player to grab a spot on the disabled list, placed there before Friday’s game with a left hip flexor strain.
“It is severe enough so that we don’t think it is a two-day thing so he could stay away from a DL stint,” said Price. “With a four-man bench there was no way to sit on our hands and wait 96 hours to see if there would be a window for him to be able to play.”
So, the Reds recalled outfielder Phillip Ervin from Louisville after he was sent back there just a couple of days ago.
“Winker will be limited to no baseball activities the first few days to see how he responds to treatment,” said Price.
PRICE SAID WINKER DID SOMETHING during last weekend’s series in Atlanta, “That he thought was relatively benign and didn’t bring to anybody’s attention.”
Butr when the Reds returned home this week he asked for some extra stretching and treatment and then on his last at bat Thursday against the Cubs he felt something coming out of the batter’s box and was removed from the game.
It wasn’t long ago that Price said he intended to use Winker as often as he could to get him at bats and opportunities.
“He would have been in the lineup tonight,” said Price. “It is unfortunate. He is a nice-looking player and it is always fun to put his name in the lineup when I can. He always seems to find a way to get on base and do something positive for us. Let’s hope it is just a 10-day setback and come September he’ll be able to play with some regularity.”
PROBABLY THE MOST disliked drill major league pitchers have to do is what is called PFP, pitchers fielding practice. It involves running from the mound to first base to take throws from the first baseman. And it involves fielding bunts and throwing home on the run, throwing to third, throwing to second.
Talk about dedication and love for the game? When the Reds pitchers performed PFP the other day, Bronson Arroyo was out there among ‘em, even though his pitching career is over. Plus he continues to take batting practice with the pitchers.
And as PFP progressed Thursday, a jaded observer from the dugout said, “The way the Reds pitchers have been this year, they should be practicing backing up third base and backing up home plate.”