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Ask Hal: No quick fix for wobbly Reds rotation


Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy knows a thing or two about our nation’s pastime. Tap into that knowledge by sending an email to halmccoy1@hotmail.com.

Q: Is it true that Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani were seen wearing identical T-shirts that read, “Out of Sight, Out of Mind?” — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: You mean like the shirt you gave me that said, “Dave Went to Aruba and All I Got Was This Cheap T-shirt?” Bailey and DeSclafani may be out of sight, rehabbing in Arizona, but they are hardly out of mind. What the Reds miss most right now is starting pitching and they check on the progress of those two nearly every hour and are singing, “Homer Bailey won’t you please come home.”

»RELATED: Finnegan moved to 60-day DL

Q: It is obvious the Reds have the worst starting rotation in baseball, so where is the fix for that this season?

A: There are a lot of bad ones in the majors these days and I wouldn’t call the Reds the worst, but it’s close. The fix is in the training room, as in how soon can Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani and Brandon Finnegan scramble off the disabled list. When a team loses three out of five rotation members there is no quick fix. They have to do what the Reds are doing and see if anybody in their minor league system is ready. So far, so bad.

Q: Think back over the years and tell us who was the most difficult player to interview and who was the easiest? — WORDMAN, Troy.

A: That’s a lot of years to think back upon, but the easiest to interview is the easiest. That would be Peter Edward Rose, who would talk baseball with the janitor until even after the cows came home. Open your notebook, ask a question, and your notebook is filled. Steve Carlton was the most difficult because he wouldn’t answer questions. Barry Bonds was difficult because he was disrespectful of all people. Brandon Phillips, once one of the easiest, wouldn’t talk to me the last two years he was with the Reds. And I have a sneaky feeling he won’t talk to me when the Atlanta Braves come to town.

»WATCH: A free hitting lesson from Pete Rose

Q: If the Reds traded Brandon Phillips to give a younger player an opportunity to play, why is 40-year-old Bronson Arroyo on the team and shouldn’t the same philosophy hold true? — STAIGER, Cincinnati

A: It’s different eggs in the same basket. When the Reds lost starting pitchers Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani in spring training, they needed a body and some stability in the bullpen. Arroyo offered to come back for whatever the Reds would pay him and they are paying him the minimum of $500,000. Arroyo is not part of the future and it would surprise me if he is still in the rotation by the All-Star break if Bailey, DeSclafani and Brandon Finnegan come back off the DL.

Q: Billy Hamilton recently tied Bip Roberts’ Reds record for most consecutive games scoring a run. Do you have any Bip Roberts stories? JOHN, Centerville.

A: Because Bip was a bit, uh, temperamental, he had some get-along problems. And because his stay in Cincinnati was so short he is easily forgotten. But in 1992 he hit .323 and stole 44 bases and was the team MVP. He tied a National League record by collecting 10 straight hits. And he made the All-Star team and was 2 for 2 with two RBIs. Bip was a little guy, just a “bip” of a guy, but he could really run.

Q: Are you finding that most hitters use thin-handled bats, including non-power guys, unlike the fat-handled bat of years gone by? — MARK, Dayton.

A: Jackie Robinson always used a bat with a handle almost as thick as the barrel. When I was a kid, from Little League through high school, we always seemed to have one Jackie Robinson bat in our rack, but nobody used it. It was pretty unwieldy. You never want to hit the ball near the handle. You want to hit the ball on the barrel so it makes more sense to have more wood and weight on the barrel than on the handle. But Jackie Robinson proved that it ain’t necessarily so.

Q: Can you share any info about Nick Travieso, Tyler Mahle, Keury Mella and Sal Romano? How are they doing in the minors? JOHN, Fairfield.

A: Travieso, a No. 1 draft pick, missed spring training with biceps tendinitis, started the season on the 60-day DL and has just begun throwing. Mahle is dominating at Class AA Pensacola with a 5-1 record in eight starts that includes a perfect game and a 1.42 earned-run average Mella, obtained with Adam Duvall in the Mike Leake trade with the Giants, is 1-3 with a 3.92 ERA in eight starts at Pensacola. Romano is 0-0 with a 1.23 ERA at Triple-A Louisville, but has been on the DL since shortly after the Reds optioned him back to the Bats in late April. You will see Romano again this year.

Q: Which is more fun, waiting for a replay decision, watching grass grow or watching Lou Pinella fire a base into right field? — ALAN, Sugarcreek Twp.

A: There are times I can drink an entire Starbucks non-fat latte while waiting for a replay decision, my grass grows so fast I can almost see it grow, and Sweet Lou throwing a base is a once-in-a-lifetime event. I’d say my most fun is playing blackjack, except when the dealer consistently throws a face card on top of my 12. But I’d have to say that watching Piniella throw first base into right field, then running out to it and throwing it again, is one of my all-time highlights.



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