From MLB.com’s Alyson Footer…
Reds manager Bryan Price anticipates working reliever Tony Cingrani into more games in the near future.
Cingrani last pitched on April 14 in Chicago. Tabbed as a long relief option, Price hasn’t pitched Cingrani in a lot of close games, but, “the time may have come now where regardless of who’s coming up, lefty or righty, he gets the opportunity,” Price said. “I think it’s time.”
When the Reds cut Sam LeCure near the end of Spring Training and sent him outright to Triple-A Louisville, the task was for him to get better fastball command. It wasn’t a popular decision with fans, especially as the middle of the bullpen has struggled to bridge games to closer Aroldis Chapman.
In his five games thus far at Louisville, LeCure has had decent numbers — a 3.68 ERA with three earned runs, four hits, three walks and six strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings. His opponents have a .160 batting average. On Thursday vs. Columbus, he gave up two runs and two hits over 1 1/3 innings.
What are the reports the Reds are getting behind those numbers?
“I think he’s doing a nice job of managing the games he’s getting into,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “Our primary focus with Sam when he went to Triple-A was to get the fastball command back. in the second half of last year, it was more challenging for him. It’s such a big pitch – that two-seam sinker, comebacker that he throws. He was able to lean a bit more on the curveball and changeup last year. I think for him to be the impact pitcher he was for us in the past, the fastball command will need to come back in force. And I have not lost any optimism that he’ll be a part of this bullpen here over the course of the season. We certainly miss his influence.”
I’m back on the case tonight. First pitch at 7:10 p.m. ET
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I am off the rest of the road trip and will be back covering on Friday.
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First pitch scheduled for 8:05 p.m. ET
This will be Skip Schumaker’s first start of the season.
Since getting off to a nice start, Reds leadoff hitter Billy Hamilton has cooled quite a bit. He started out 4-for-9 in the first two games, but is batting .107 (3-for-28) in his last seven games. Entering the day, he’s 1-for-13 on the road trip and his last walk came when he drew two bases-on-balls April 10 — which also was the last time he stole a base after a 7-for-7 start in the first four games.
Not a coincidence, the Reds offense has also slowed since the 4-0 start, and without Devin Mesoraco’s absence.
“We’ve also had to move Brandon [Phillips] up to the four-hole without having Devin here, which I hate to say shortens our lineup but it’s certainly not the lineup we anticipated,” Reds manager Bryan Price said on Saturday morning. “Having Brandon hitting further down the lineup really gave us authoritative bat there in the back of the lineup. It’s certainly important. [Hamilton] is a big factor in our offense. He’s quite often in scoring position. He’s going to score in a myriad of ways with his speed. And it’s just one more guy for us to knock in with that middle of the order group we have. It’s pretty important that he’s on base as far as generating our offense. [But] we’ve got seven other guys that have similar responsibility to get on base and drive in runs.”
And one of those players should be Marlon Byrd, who is off to a poor start after a strong Spring Training. Byrd enters Saturday batting .132 (5-for-38) in his 10 games. He still had Price’s full support.
“We’re definitely going to have way more leeway with a veteran player that’s got career numbers,” Price said. “He’s coming off a year where he hit 25 homers and drove in over 80 runs. That doesn’t just disappear because he struggles for a 10-game stretch. I’m looking forward to him breaking out and the impact it will have on our lineup, for sure. I haven’t lost any faith that he’s going to have a real nice year for us.”
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RHP Pedro Villarreal was optioned to Louisville while Homer Bailey was activated from the DL.
First pitch: 2:15 pm ET