CINCINNATI — Tanner Rainey is back, temporarily reclaiming a folding chair in the Cincinnati Reds bullpen. And his main mission during this short visit is to make a better impression than the one he left behind.
Rainey was called up from Class AAA Louisville on April 10 and made two appearances of an inning each. They weren’t pretty.
On April 10, his major league debut, he gave up four runs on two hits and four walks in Philadelphia. It was not a Rainey Day in Philadelphia. On April 12 a run, a hit and three walks in one inning against St. Louis. It was not a Rainey Day in Cincinnati. He quickly was on his way back to Louisville.
He is back to sub-in for Amir Garrett, who is on bereavement leave, which is at least three days with seven days the maximum.
“The first time up here wasn’t what I hoped for, what I wanted it to be,” said the 6-2, 235-pound right hander from Folsom, La. “I went back down (to Louisville) for a couple of weeks and got back to where I was feeling good. I hope I can bring that up here.”
A debut like that can be a confidence destroyer, but Rainey said it didn’t happen.
“Not at all,” he said. “I know I’m better than that, so I can get back here and prove myself. I threw really well at Louisville and I want to take that straight into games here.”
The biggest problem, of course, were the seven walks in two innings, an early-career problem for Rainey that he thought he had smoothed over.
“They did hurt me, that’s for sure and that has been a big thing for me my whole career,” he said. “I struggled with walks in the lower levels, but last year I was able calm those down a little.”
Rainey’s began his career as starter, 15 starts at Billings in the Pioneer Rookie League in 2015, then 20 starts and nine relief appearanes at Class A Dayton in 2016. For the Dragons he was 5-and-10 with a 5.57 earned run average. He walked 66 in 103 1/3 innings.
He became a full-time relief pitcher while splitting last season at Class A Daytona Beach and Class AA Pensacola. He was 1-1 with a 1.59 ERA in 14 appearances over 17 innings, even though he walked 11.
Manager Jim Riggleman sees the finer points on Rainey.
“I really thought he threw the ball good when he was here,” said Riggleman. “That night he pitched in Philadelphia he hung a slider and put four runs on the board (a grand slam home run). But he threw the ball, even though he walked some guys to get himself in trouble.
“I look for him to get a little more comfortable because he is going to be a good one,” Riggleman added. “When he settles in, gets feet under him, he will be a good one for us. So any innings we can get him while Amir Garrett is gone we’ll get him.”
AMAZINGLY, despite have baseball’s worst record, by far, the Reds’ offense has been kicking dirt off the coffin lids. How about these numbers heading into Friday’s game against the Miami Marlins:
Over the previous 10 games, the Reds lead the majors in walks and on-base percentage and are second in runs scored. And yet the Reds are 4-and-6 in those games, mostly due to abysmal pitching.
Riggleman put the positive numbers in perfect perspective when he said, “When you have those kinds of stats you have to turn some of those into wins.
“It is just one of those things, what we did last year, but last year we hit homers,” he added. With 24 home runs the Reds are 29th in the majors, three ahead of Miami, owner of the fewest homers. “I think we will hit home runs, but we’re just in a bit of a dry time right now.”
SCOOTER GENNETT hopes to be back in Friday’s lineup, but he wasn’t Maybe tomorrow?
“Scooter feels good today and our trainer (Steve Baumann) wanted to give him a good workout on the field today and see if he passes all the tests,” said Riggleman. “He could play today (Friday) but we’ll hold him off, except maybe pinch-hitting or a double-switch situation. We think he’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”
Said Gennett, “My shoulder feels good, no pain right now. As long as everything goes well in my pre-game work I expect to be in the lineup tomorrow.”
According to Gennett, he passed every test and participated in batting practice and was ready to play Friday, but accepts a chance to start Saturday.
JOSE PERAZA HAS PLAYED 31 of the first 32 games, including Friday night, and Riggleman said he soon will give the young shortstop a day off.
So who plays shortstop that day, Eugenio Suarez or Alex Blandino?
“That’s a good question,” said Riggleman. “I think we would move Suarez over there (from third base) and put Blandino at third. But it is a little bit of a coin flip.”
Riggleman is a big Peraza fan and remembers when the 23-year-old Venezuelan hit .324 two years ago in 72 games after he was called up from Louisville in mid-season.
“And he played a good shortstop then, too,” Riggleman added. “He is a good player, has a knack for putting the bat on the ball. He doesn’t walk much. He has played fine shortstop for us.”
After an 0 for 12 start, Peraza is 35 for 107 (.326). He has walked only three times in 130 plate appearanaces and struck out only 14 times. And he has made only two errors.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I don’t need Sarah Huckabee Sanders, I can do this by myself.” — Manager Jim Riggleman when he walked into his office and saw it stuffed with media.