Good day for Reds’ bullpen
It was an extra-inning win for the Reds on Thursday. They beat the Rangers, 5-4, in the bottom of the 10th on a walk-off bases loaded walk from Joey Votto. More on MLB.com/Reds.com, as usual.
Items of note:
*Sam LeCure gave up a Prince Fielder home run in the sixth inning but it was an otherwise banner day for the bullpen. Manny Parra, Logan Ondrusek and Nick Christiani combined for four scoreless and one hit allowed.
“The bullpen came in and did a real nice job,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “We know there are some opportunities in our bullpen right now. It was nice to see Christiani come in and throw two nice innings there.”
*Working for the first time in five days, J.J. Hoover pitched a perfect seventh with one strikeout. Price said there was no issue with Hoover having been idle. There was the off day on Tuesday and of course, Wednesday’s game was not completed. Hoover was working on some pitches vs. Texas.
“He’s good. He’s trying to get locked in,” Price said. “He was trying to throw a couple of curveballs for strikes right there. That’s kind of been the pitch that’s been giving him the most trouble this spring. He cracked off a few sliders. He started last year throwing that slider and it just wasn’t a great pitch the first part of the season so he stopped throwing it. He’s worked on it a lot this spring and it’s gotten better but the curveball kind of went away for while and today it was back.”
*For the first time, position players played the whole game — including Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Ramon Santiago and Chris Heisey. That’s part of the plan going forward.
“We’re starting to integrate to the nine-inning full game for some of the position players. Depending on how many games I have them playing in a row, we’ll incrementally build up some guys,” Price said.
*Catching up from Wednesday’s game, it wasn’t a good game vs. the Royals for Alfredo Simon before the Chapman injury. Simon gave up five runs (three earned) with eight hits over five innings with three walks and three strikeouts. In five starts, he has a 4.42 ERA as he tries to get a rotation spot in case one of the regular starters isn’t ready for the season.
“He’s thrown the ball really well. There’s been other times where he’s been erratic,” Price said. “He’s had two games where he’s been erratic with his command. I didn’t feel yesterday he had an off-speed pitch to go to. He wasn’t able to drop his curveball like he usually is. For a starter, it becomes challenging because they have a very good hitting lineup. If you don’t have a way to pitch backwards or a soft pitch to throw every now and again in a fastball count, that’s what they do. When he’s locked in with that sinker-cutter, he can do it.”
*In today’s Reds notebook, I wrote about how the club tried to move on today from what happened to Aroldis Chapman. Also there is news on Johnny Cueto being scratched from his start. Click here to read.
*Many teams were likely wincing at the video of Chapman being hit in the face by a line drive on Wednesday night. Courtesy of Cubs MLB.com writer, Carrie Muskat, some reaction from that clubhouse:
“You don’t really think about it,” Cubs pitcher James McDonald said. “When you see it, you’re like, ‘Oh, that could be anybody.’ when you see it, it turns your stomach a little bit. You don’t wish that on anybody because you don’t know how it could affect them afterword.”
Cubs pitcher Arrieta recalled being hit in the face when he was in high school, taking a fastball off the orbital bone on the left side of his face but he was batting.
“We realize we’re 60 feet from that hitter who can generate a lot of power,” Arrieta said. “Reacting to something like that is extremely hard to do. It’s a scary situation and something we have to deal with and prepare for as best we can.”