Ask Hal: Way too early for Bell to be feeling heat

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

Q: How ludicrous is it to fine a player $100 if he is making $30 million and doesn’t the player choose his favorite charity to receive the money? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: The last $100 fine in major league baseball was about 1910. Fines today aren’t chicken feed. For example, not only did Cincinnati’s Nick Castellanos draw a two-game suspension this year, he was suspended without pay, which cost him $150,504, according to Sportrac. That’s like fining me $1.38. Players do not choose where fine money goes. MLB chooses.

Q: This season is no different than last season, so how much longer will the Reds stay with David Bell as manager? — BOB, Centerville.

A: If it is no different, that means the Reds will finish over .500 and make the playoffs. It always perplexes me how some people want other people removed from their jobs. And this season is different. Every season is different. Geez, let’s let the season progress more than a month before slinging mud at the manager.

Q: John Franco, Jeff Brantley and Aroldis Chapman were effective closers for the Reds, so what characteristics or traits made them successful? — JOHN, Oxford.

A: You left out The Nasty Boys, Danny Graves, Jeff Shaw, Rawley Eastwick, Will McEnaney, Clay Carroll, Billy McCool and Coco Cordero. Closers are like the general population. Not one fits all. Some are tall (Chapman), some are short (Brantley, Franco, Graves), some throw hard, some throw junk. The traits they all have is fearlessness, mean streaks on the mound, a thirst for pressure and a specialty ‘out’ pitch.

Q: Why are so many Reds relief pitchers removing their hat and looking into them before facing some hitters and is there an inspirational message in there? — MARTY, Wilmington.

A: Yeah, it’s a message from the manager that says, “Work fast, throws strikes and get those suckers out.” No actually those are scouting reports printed on cards, informing the pitcher of what the computer says a hitter might hit and might not hit. And it isn’t only the pitchers. Outfielders carry them, too, advising where to play each hitter. But, as we all know, computers can be wrong, too.

Q: When the runner is placed on second base to start extra innings, if that runner scores is the pitcher charged with an earned run? — LARRY, Oakwood.

A: Hey, they put the pitcher in enough trouble by putting a runner on second base when he didn’t earn it. If that runner scores, no matter how he scores, the run is considered an unearned run and doesn’t count against the pitcher’s earned run average. However, if a pitcher allows a home run, like Kenley Jansen did to Cincinnati’s Jesse Winker, the runner on second is an unearned run, but Winker’s home run is an earned run. And Jansen is jabbed with the loss. The Pitcher’s Union is considering a picket line protest.

Q: If a player starts the season in Triple-A, gets called up to the major for a few games, then gets sent back down, how does he get paid? — CHUCK, Belmont

A: it’s high finance, for sure. The major league minimum for rookies is $570,500 a year. All players on the 40-man roster receive at least that. As long as they are on the 40-man, even if they are playing at Triple-A, they get $570,500. If they are not on the 40-man, they are paid a ghastly $700 a week and it is $600 in Double-A. If he is called up to the big club, he is paid a major league salary on a pro-rated basis, depending upon how many days he stays in the bigs. While major leaguers toss around $100 bills, minor leaguers flip quarters.

Q: How about this for a lineup change: Move Mike Moustakas to left field, Jesse Winker to center field, Eugenio Suarez back to third base, Kyle Farmer to shortstop and Nick Senzel to utility? — ED, Kettering.

A: I’m no manager, never was and never tried it. But I see too many holes in your lineup card. Moustakas is an infielder, not an outfielder. Winker does not have the range nor the arm to play center field. I’m not sure Suarez’s problems are because he is playing shortstop. His problem is he is trying to live up to his prediction that he’ll hit 50 homers this year. And did you notice that Senzel had four hits in one game against the Dodgers, three of Clayton Kershaw?

Q: I was taught since Little League that if a pitch is close with two strikes you better be swinging, so why do Reds players take so many called third strikes, even on 0-2? — JERRY, Jackson Center.

A: Little League does not compute to MLB. It isn’t just the Reds. Did you see the Dodgers take six called strikes against Sonny Gray. And the Dodgers win the National League West every year. Major League pitchers are adept at making pitches look like balls and break them over the corners of the plate. It ain’t as easy as it looks from our La-Z-boys.


Q: Football place-kickers don’t get to practice kicks from the field before field goal tries and basketball players don’t get to practice free throws before they shoot, so why do pitchers get to warm-up in the bullpen and then throw more practice pitches when they come into games? — GREG, Beavercreek.

A: I’ve often wondered the same thing, especially if they continue to complain about the length of games. Pitchers tell me that mounds in the bullpen sometimes are vastly different than the ones on the playing field and they need to adjust to them. Hey, 60 feet, 6 inches is 60 feet, 6 inches in San Francisco as well as in New York.

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