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Hal McCoy: Duvall a perfect player for cash-conscious Reds

Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy knows a thing or two about our nation’s pastime. Tap into that knowledge with an email to

When a team does the paperwork to place a player on the disabled list does the list of reasons include, “Fell off of a boat?” — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: I’ve never seen the paperwork, but I’m certain a team doesn’t have to list cause of injury. It just lists type of injury. Teams do discourage players participating in potentially dangerous pursuits like riding motorcycles, skiing, hang gliding, bungee jumping and boating. You make light of it, but there have been two tragic boating incidents. The Cleveland Indians lost two pitchers, Steve Olin and Tim Crews, in a spring training boating accident in 1993 and the Miami Marlins lost pitcher Jose Fernandez in a boating accident last year. Cincinnati Reds pitcher Brandon Finnegan underwent surgery on his non-throwing surgery after a fall at home, so maybe pitchers should stay away from home, too.

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Q: With Adam Duvall leading National League outfielders in RBI over the last two years, how long is he under contract and is there interest in him from other team for more prospects? — GARY, Oslo, Norway.

A: If the Reds put him on the market, teams would line up with hats in one hand and a prospects list in the other. While he turns 29 in September, he might be baseball’s best bargain right now. He makes only $575,500, he isn’t eligible for arbitration until after the 2019 season and he can’t be a free agent until 2022. He is the perfect player to fit the Reds’ budget.

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Q: What happens to the balls and bats that are removed from games? — MIKE, Englewood.

A: The Reds have an authenticator near the dugout and he marks every ball that is tossed out of the game as a ball used in a game. He does the same with cracked bats that aren’t shattered into toothpicks. And they are sold to fans, with the money going to the highly successful Reds Community Fund, run by the personable and hard-working Charley Frank. They also sell used bases, special game caps (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July), nearly everything in the stadium but toilet seats.

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Q: Can you give me a reason why Vada Pinson, my all-time favorite player, is not in baseball’s Hall of Fame with nearly 2,800 hits? CHUCK, West Carrollton.

A: There is only one reason, the same as for every player who hasn’t made the Hall of Fame. He never received enough votes. No, he is no longer eligible and would have to be put in by one of the committees. I’m with you, though. I believe he belongs. He twice led the National League in hits and batted .343 in 1961 when the Reds won the pennant. He combined speed and power and was an outstanding center fielder. I could probably come up with a list of 100 players who should be in the Hall of Fame who aren’t there and never will be.

Q: What is the best quote you’ve received from a player or manager? — STOCC, Miamisburg.

A: Tough question because none of my top 10 are suitable for a family newspaper. You’ll have to check out my book for those. One of my favorites was when Pokey Reese played shortstop on Opening Day and made four errors, three in one inning. Before the game, owner Marge Schott had elephants on the field from the Cincinnati Zoo. Reese said after the game, “Instead of playing shortstop today, I should have been walking behind an elephant with a trash bag. But I probably would have missed those, too.”

Q: I think with one more above average starting pitcher, 2018 might be the year the Reds have a shot for the playoffs and what say you? — JAY, Englewood.

A: It is great to be an optimist and put myself in that category. But I’m a realist, too. One more above average pitcher, you say? Who on the staff right now is above average. I don’t see any. They need five, not one, and there isn’t a guy on the staff right now I’d consider above average. Most are average or below average. Luis Castillo gives them hope for one and I see Homer Bailey bouncing back. After that? Too many question marks. Mark this down. They will improve, but they won’t finish above .500.

Q: Home plate umpires take some nasty foul balls off their exposed arms, thighs and unmentionable places so is there a disabled list for umps and why don’t they use those large inflatable balloons any more? GREG, Beavercreek.

A: There is no disabled list for umpires, but if they are injured they can take as long as they need to recover and they still get paid. They should also get hazardous duty pay on days the work home plate because they are like human backstops. Most umpires are injured by foul balls off their heads and even masks can’t stop the pain. The inflatable chest protectors were too cumbersome and blocked umpires from seeing low strikes. As a kid, when I wanted to ‘play’ umpire I strapped a cushion from my mom’s couch on my chest. Uh, I only did that once.

Q: Fans are supposed to believe that the Reds will have a five-man rotation by the end of the season but there are huge question marks everywhere and I am just not seeing all of this promise they talk about, so how do you come down on this? — RON, Clemmons, N.C.

A: I stand right next to you. I see a lot of good arms with very little command and control of the strike zone, which is what pitching is all about. You can throw 98, but you better locate it and command it and you better have at least two other pitches to go with it, including a workable change-up. Too many teams these days scout velocity and nothing else. Too often teams sign those who throw 98, but discover too late that their pitching IQ never rises above 68. Depending on the health next year of Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani I remain a skeptic about the so-called young guns.


Q: Can Billy Hamilton be taught to hit ground balls? — SID, Mooresville, N.C.

A: This falls into the category of teaching an old dog new tricks. He is in his sixth major league season and they’ve tried, unsuccessfully, to teach him to bunt for hits. What they need to do is have him spend an entire offseason with Ichiro Suzuki to learn now to slap-and-run, hit those little line drives that fall in front of the outfielders. And Reds manager Bryan Price should do what mythical manager Lou Brown of the Cleveland Indians did in the movie Major League with Willie Mays Hayes. Every time Hamilton hits the ball in the air make him drop to the ground and do 10 push-ups.

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