They are called extra players, utility players, bench players, pinch-hitters, pinch-runners. They have many titles but they all mean the same thing. They are not regular players and they sit and wait their chances.
Kivlehan is a football player wearing a baseball uniform. He played four years of football at Rutgers and didn’t turn to baseball until his senior season — after his football days were over.
AMAZINGLY HE WAS NAMED Big East Conference Player of the Year after he won the Triple Crown — .402, 10 homers, 36 RBI.
The Seattle Mariners liked what they saw and selected him in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. For the next few years he won MVPs and was an All-Star all through the minors.
When the San Diego Padres placed him on waivers late last season, the Reds grabbed him. And he has been with the team all this season — sitting and waiting.
On Monday night, he was sitting cross-legged in the dugout late in the game when manager Bryan Price used him as part of a double switch. So he came to bat in the eigrhth inning and hit a grand slam home run.
REDS MANAGER BRYAN PRICE praised Kivlehan profusely, saying he could be as good as Adam Duvall, given the opportunity, and that he could start for a lot of teams.
“Kivlehan has done more than I expected,” said Price. “Throw aside his batting average (.214) because he is in a very tough spot (mostly pinch-hitting). But he is multi-positional, defends above average and hits with power — he has been big. Given the opportunity he could be the next Adam Duvall-type player.
“He could have a run-producing impact with significant extra base hits, plus defense. That’s unfair because he hasn’t been given the opportunity the way Duvall was. He could be a really good every day player,” Price added.
KIVLEHAN SMILED AND nodded his head when asked if he had heard Price comparing him to Duvall and said, “Yeah, I’ve heard that, I’ve heard him say it before. It is definitely a compliment because Adam is one of the better players. I try not to think about that stuff too much with my role being what it is. I try to do the best I can in my role and don’t think about much else.”
Asked how tough his role is, Kivlehan said, “It is one of those jobs where you can’t get too down and you can’t get too high. You are going to fail more than you succeed, especially in the pinch-hitting role.
“It is what it is and I just try to take each at bat as it happens,” he said.
IF THOSE WHO WATCH the speed gun on pitchers are worried about some recent fastballs thrown by Raisel Iglesias, don’t be.
In a couple of recent outings the Cincinnati closer has thrown some fastballs in the 93 to 94 miles an hour range. That could be concerning when Iglesias has touched 100 a few times and throws 99 with frequency. And his fastball averages 96.3 miles an hour.
But both Iglesias and manager Bryan Price are unconcerned. Asked if he is intentionally pulling back on his fastball, Iglesisas quickly said, “Si, si, si. There is nothing wrong. I am working on my slider and breaking pitches. And I have a good defense behind me.”
Iglesias actually is throwing his fastball only 58 per cent of the time. He throws sliders 28 per cent and change-ups 14 per cent. And his change-up is thrown harder than his slider — 88 miles an hour on the change-up and 85 miles an hour on the slider.
“It is not concerning,” Price said of the velocity decrease. “There are times when he reserves the extra. Do I have concerns? No, I don’t. I don’t think his goal is to see how hard he can throw it. On certain days he feels better than others on how the ball comes out of his hand. That’s not unusual for relievers.
“HE HAS A LOT OF DIFFERENT weapons and arm slots and variances to get hitter’s out,” said Price. “He doesn’t need maximum velocity to get hitters out.”
During his 46 appearances this season Iglesias has given up 11 earned runs and seven came on two swings of the bat. Seattle’s Corey Seager hit a grand slam and Miami’s Marcell Ozuna hit a three-run homer. In his other 44 appearances his ERA is 0.68.
He appeared in the ninth inning Monday night when the Reds led, 11-4, and struck out the side. It was a ‘need work’ day, a day to keep him sharp.
“He chomps at the bit to pitch and we’re trying to stay away from not using him three or four or five days in a row,” said Price. “He feels as if he gets out of synch if he doesn’t pitch.”
BILLY HAMILTON WITH nine and Adam Duvall with eight are first and second in outfield assists this year in the majors. As one glass half-empty curmudgeon said, “That figures because there are so many baserunners against the Reds the opportunities are certainly there.”
A more noteworthy and surprising note is that over the past two seasons Adam Duvall leads all National League outfielders in runs batted in. He has 180, six more than Jay Bruce and 12 more than Bryce Harper.