Ask Hal: Difficult for rebuilding Reds to get upper hand in NL Central

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Q: Is there a better word to describe the Reds four-man outfield rotation than dumb, stupid or asinine? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: How about exploratory and experimental? You’ve only given it a few games before being judgmental. Hey, who knows, it might work? And if one of the four flounders, they can go back to the accepted three-man outfield. But if two of the four have rotten starts, then that’s a real problem. They might have to stick Phillip Ervin and/or Phil Gosselin in there and make it a six-man outfield rotation.

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Q: The St. Louis Cardinals picked up 2017 saves leader Greg Holland and the Reds picked up washed-up Yovani Gallardo, so will the Reds ever get the upper hand on the other teams in their division? — TOM, Huber Heights.

A: The Cardinals, as always, are in-it-to-win-it every year. The Reds are in-it-to-finish and usually are out of it by the end of May. It is hard to get the upper hand when you are given the lower boot. With the Cubs, Cardinals and Brewers in the division I don’t see the Reds even grabbing a finger-hold for a long time.

Q: Would Sparky Anderson permit Billy Hamilton to bat with two outs in the ninth inning and the Reds one run down and he is the potential tying run. — Stocc, Miamisburg.

A: You are referring to last Sunday when Hamilton struck out to end the game. Manager Bryan Price’s explanation was that Hamilton hit the ball hard twice earlier in the game, once for a double. But he didn’t mention that Hamilton was 1 for 9 with five strikeouts. I doubt if Sparky would have sent Hamilton to the plate. Sparky once pinch-hit for Phil Gagliano in the top of the first inning in Los Angeles when the Reds had a rally going. Gagliano hadn’t even played in the field yet. When Anderson pinch-hit for him, Gagliano broke out every light bulb from the dugout tunnel to the clubhouse, didn’t miss a single one. If Sparky had known he didn’t miss a bulb, he might have permitted him to hit.

Q: Adam Duvall has averaged 139 hits, 32 homers and 101 RBI over the past two seasons, so why is he a part of manager Bryan Price’s head-scratching four-man outfield? — KYLE, Dayton.

A: Look at it this way, though, those same last two seasons Duvall has been fantastic the first half of the season and awful the second half. That means he probably gets tired. By rotating in a four-man outfield, getting a day or two off a week, Duvall might be able to maintain his strength and health for an entire season instead of being a pushover out late in the season.

Q: Is the official scorer hired by the Reds and does the same guy do all the games, or do they travel around the league like umpires and do they have instant replay so they can later change a call? KEITH, Brookville.

A: The main official scorer in Cincinnati is Ron Roth and his back-up is Mike Cameron, both Cincinnati-area high school baseball coaches. The Reds help pick them, with the approval of Major League Baseball and MLB pays them. It is the same in every city. Every team has its own official scorer. They have access to instant replay and usually don’t make a call on a play until they watch it on replay. It’s a tough, thankless and low-paid job.

Q: A new rule says that a catcher is limited to six trips to the mound per nine-inning game, so what is the penalty if he makes a seventh visit? SHARON, Middletown.

A: Actually, a team is permitted six mound visits by a catcher (or any other player), coaches or the manager. If any of them come calling to the mound for a seventh time the team must change pitchers, no matter what. Visits are limited to 30 seconds from the time the player or coach/manager heads to the mound, not much time to ask how the family and kids are doing. Each time is granted an extra visit for each extra inning played. Does this sound like explaining rules to a boar game or what?

Q: Please explain how Major League Baseball came up with six innings pitched and three earned runs or less given up constitute a quality start? — TIM, Xenia.

A: MLB didn’t come up with it. It was concocted by a baseball writer in Detroit named John Lowe, a very good friend. But he ‘unfriended’ me when I pooh-poohed a 4.50 earned run average as a quality start, which is what three runs over six innings is. I told him it should be two runs over six innings for a 3.00 ERA to be a quality start. But he stuck with his 3/6 formula and MLB adopted it, although it is not an official statistic. And a 4.50 ERA should never be considered good.


Q: You and I agree that we don’t like the designated hitter, but the National League is the only baseball organization in the world that doesn’t use it, so don’t you think perhaps it is time for the NL to use the same rules as the rest of baseball? — BILL, Tipp City.

A: My wish upon a star is that all of baseball would do away with the DH, but that isn’t going to happen. I believe the National League soon will adopt the DH, which will at least standardize both major leagues. That doesn’t mean I have to like it, because I won’t. It doesn’t make sense to me to play platoon baseball with one position.

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