McCoy: Reds make changes to beleaguered bullpen

Reds manager David Bell is introduced in a pregame ceremony on Opening Day on Thursday, April 1, 2021, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff
Reds manager David Bell is introduced in a pregame ceremony on Opening Day on Thursday, April 1, 2021, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

It was as clear as bottled water that the Cincinnati Reds needed some quick adjustments to a shell-shocked bullpen.

And those tweaks were made Friday before the club opened a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals in Busch Stadium III.

They added two pitchers, left-hander Heath Hembree from the alternate training site and right-hander Ryan Hendrix from the taxi squad.

To make room, infielder Max Schrock and lefthanded pitcher Cionel Perez were optioned to the taxi squad.

They added an extra pitcher to the roster and reduced position players by one.

“It was a need,” said manager David Bell. “We had it set up because we thought that was the best balance between pitchers and position players. We just got into a situation where the way the games have gone recently we needed to adjust that. For now, this is what’s best for us.”

With the bullpen in disarray, some wonder how it would be if the Reds had kept Raisel Iglesias and/or Archie Bradley.

Iglesias, now the Los Angeles Angels closer, is 1-1 with a 5.66 earned run average and two saves. In 6 1/3 innings he has walked only one and struck out 11. Bradley  is  0-1 with a 6.00 ERA for Philadelphia, giving three runs and four hits in four short appearances.

The Reds also introduced right-handed pitcher Phillip Diehl, who they acquired April 14 off waivers from the Colorado Rockies. He was working out at the alternate training site in Louisville, but chatted via Zoom with the media Friday afternoon.

Diehl is a Cincinnati Moeller High School graduate and grew up as an avid Reds fan and attended games regularly at Great American Ball Park.

Asked what it was like when he heard the Reds picked him up, the bespectacled Diehl smiled broadly and said, “It was amazing. I was just finishing up a bullpen in Arizona when i was left a voicemail that said the Cincinnati Reds had picked me up, that I was going home. It was sick.”

Reds manager David Bell, also a Moeller product, was surprised when he learned that Diehl also is a Moeller alumnus.

“About the second thing he (Bell) said was him asking what year I graduated, and I said 2012,” said Diehl. “And he said, ‘I’m a little bit before that,’ and we had a good laugh.

Diehl, of course, was well-aware that Bell is a Moeller graduate.

“At Moeller, you know who has been through those doors and what the expectations are and you try to carry on the tradition and do the best you can for guys who came before you,” he said. “It will be cool to have him be my manager.”

His family lives 10 minutes from Great American Ball Park, a place where Diehl and his family often watched and rooted for the Reds.

Diehl appeared in 10 games with the Rockies in 2019 and was 0-0 with a 7.85 earned run average. He worked six games last season and was 0-0 with a 10.50 ERA. During spring  training with the Rockies this year he appeared in seven games and gave up eight runs and nine hits over 5 2/3 innngs, a 10.80 ERA.

“I went into camp throwing the ball very well,” he said. “In a game against Seattle, my first couple of pitches were great. . .and then it exploded, just like that. So I really had just one bad outing in spring training. I was very pleased in how I was throwing.”

Bell said he had just a five-minute chat with Diehl and said, “It was a lot of fun. The first thing he said was that he was the 14th major league player from Moeller. That probably will continue to go up and it’s pretty amazing.

“He grew up a fan, obviously. . .and it’s pretty fun for me to have that connection with Moeller High School and having a hometown player on the Reds is always exciting,” Bell added. “There is something a little extra special there and it will be fun to see how much we can help him and get him back to the big leagues.”

Some leftovers from the Reds’ 14-11 loss Thursday in 10 innings to the Diamondbacks:

—The Reds became the first team in MLB history to hit six home runs while their starting pitcher gave up two earned runs and lose.

—The 17 walks issued by the bullpen in the three-game series, all losses, tied the most in the modern era, done only one other time. . .by the 1949 Boston Braves.

—The first four Reds in the batting order hit home runs: Jesse Winker (2), Nick Castellanos, Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez. The last time the Reds did it (Votto, Suarez, Winker, Yasiel Puig) was not so long ago. It was April 26, 2019 against St. Louis. But the Reds won that game, 12-1.

—If Jonathan India drives in one more run this month, it will be the most ever by a Reds rookie in April. His home run Thursday gave him 13, tying Joey Votto (2008) and Josh Hamilton (2007).