CINCINNATI — The long pot-holed baseball highway that has filled Deck McGuire’s life is finally getting paved.
The 28-year-old pitcher spent eight years toiling his trade in the minor leagues, hoping against hope that his time would come.
It is coming. When the Cincinnati Reds take the field Tuesday in Milwaukee McGuire will be the starting pitcher. He is stepping in for Rookie Davis, done for the season with a hip problem.
McGuire, a No. 1 draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays, has bounced around the farm systems of the Blue Jays, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals and the Reds without getting a sniff in the majors.
THE REDS SIGNED HIM as a minor league free agent last winter and he spliced together a noteworthy season at Class AA Pensacola — 9-9 with a 2.79 earned run average in 27 starts.
McGuire wasn’t on the 40-man roster, but in appreciation for what he did at Pensacola, the Reds purchased his contract and stuck him into the bullpen the first week of September.
And he excelled — four appearances, 5 2/3 innings, no runs, two hits.
So now he is getting his second reward, a start.
“Rookie Davis has a cranky hip so we decided to shut him down,” said manager Bryan Price. “It is something he has felt for three weeks but didn’t seem to be as big a hindrance as it was in his last game.”
FOR McGUIRE IT IS Audition Time.
“He has been great,” said Price. “He makes the most sense to start. We’ve seen him out of the bullpen and he has been very impressive. It will be nice to see him in a longer stint and see what he is all about.
“He’ll be a guy that we’ll have discussions on in the off-season to see what type of fit he might be for the club, starter or reliever. We’ll see how his stuff plays in that starter’s role after he has been taxed with more innings and more pitches.
“So far he has thrown quality strikes with a mix of pitches,” Price added. “He has a full arsenal, is a strike-thrower, is athletic, competes well, controls the running game. His stuff plays as both a relief pitcher and starter, but we don’t yet have any first hand knowledge of his starting capabilities.
“We’re certainly aware of the type of season he had in the Southern League. He looks like a capable swing guy – swing relief, spot starter, or maybe better than that,” Price added. “It is a small sample size, but he is coming off a really nice year in Double-A and coming up and showing his competitiveness and his inherent ability to throw strikes with a full set of pitches. That is attractive. He has opened our eyes. Maybe he is just one of those guys who blooms late.”
McGUIRE SMILED WHEN told what Price said about his inherent ability to throw strikes.
“Yeah, I’ve been challenging people and throwing strikes, but that’s something I’ve definitely struggled with most of my career. Throwing strikes is what set apart this year from those other years for me. I’ve challenged guys and try to get ahead in the count and I’ve done it with all four of my pitches. That’s a big part of who I am, throwing all four pitches for strikes.”
Of his starting debut, the 16th different pitcher to start a game for the Reds this season, McGuire said, “Any time you get a chance to start a game in the major leagues it is not a small deal. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to go out and help the team win a ball game.”
ANTHONY DeSCLAFANI, THE projected Opening Day starter this year, has not pitched for the Reds all season due to a right elbow strain, but he is pitching. He is throwing simulated games in the Arizona Instructional League.
About midway through this seaosn, it appeared DeSclafani was about ready to re-join the rotation. But he hit rock bottom during a rehab assignment for low Class A Dayton, giving up nine runs in the first inning without getting an out.
DeSclafani threw a simulated game in Goodyear Saturday and Price said, “He came out of it good. He threw his full complement of pitches — fastball slider, change — 64 pitches or four innings.”
Price said Disco’s next trip to the mound will be Thursday for five innings (80 to 85 pitches) as they try to keep him on a starter’s five-day rotation. But he won’t pitch for the Reds this year.
“He has come through everything reall well,” said Price. “He’ll continue to take that workload and see how he holds up through the instructional league (which ends October 15).”
Since Price lives in Phoenix, he said, “I’m hoping to see him pitch when I get home. I might be able to see him October 8.”
Reds fans might just be happy to see him on the mound one time next season.
OHIO STATE RUNNING BACK J.K. Dobbins is from LaGrange, Tex., the same hometown as Reds pitcher Homer Bailey. Even though LaGrange is sparsely populated, 4,670, Bailey said he does not know Robbins.
“I know of him, of course, but he graduated about 10 year behind me and I’m not familiar with the family,” said Bailey. “I didn’t even know he signed to play at Ohio State until I saw him on televisions.
Bailey, by the way, plans to spend a week after the season hunting elk with a bow in British Columbia. After scattering the elk population, he plans to begin preparations for a full comeback for next season.
“I have one more start this year and then it’s over,” he said “And I’m glad it will be over because it has been a long, long season for me.”
DEREK JETER HASN’T offiially taken over the Miami Marlins — the sale to his group has not been finalized — but Jeter is already using a broom. He swept out four baseball legends this weekend by firing special advisors Jack McKeon, Tony Perez, Andre Dawson and Jeff Conine.
After working nearly 25 years for the Marlins, could Perez, one of Cincinnati’s all-time favorite players, become a useful member of the Reds front office?
FUN(NY) FACT: Entering today’s games, the last place Reds were averaging more runs per game (4.7) than the Cincinnati Bengals were averaging points (4.5).