Ask Hal: Is Raisel Iglesias still the right choice for closer’s role?

Reds closer Raisel Iglesias pitches against the Cubs on Monday, April 2, 2018, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
Reds closer Raisel Iglesias pitches against the Cubs on Monday, April 2, 2018, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

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

Question: When the Cincinnati Reds wear throwback uniforms with nameless jerseys do you find yourself asking who the heck is this guy? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

Answer: Even before I went to kindergarten my mother taught me numbers. And rumor has it the first baseball team to have its players wear numbers was the Reading Red Roses of the Atlantic League in 1909. The New York Yankees still don’t wear names on their jerseys, just numbers. I may be visually impaired but even on those throwback jerseys I can read those big numbers and being somewhat intelligent I have memorized all the numbers worn by the Reds. And that’s also way they publish programs.

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Q: It is evident the Reds can’t be a decent team with Raisel Iglesias as the closer, so what is your suggestion for the closer’s role? — KEITH, Butler Twp.

A: That’s not a valid assumption this early in the season. Iglesias was the Man of the Hour early this season when he struck out nine straight batters. Yes, he has lost five games this season and he complained that he shouldn’t be used in tie games. But he and manager David Bell straightened that out. He’ll be used when the manager says he’ll be used. It is too early to give up on a guy with his stuff. But if it continues, Amir Garrett might be a viable option.

Q: Why does Reds manager David Bell constantly take out a relief pitcher after one inning when he is pitching excellently? — PENNIE, Springfield.

A: Unfortunately the days of Pedro Borbon and Clay Carroll are long gone. Those two pitched three and four innings at a time for The Big Red Machine. Relief pitching now is a day of specialists, mostly one inning at a time. Managers love the righty vs. righty and lefty vs. lefty matchups. It didn’t matter to Borbon and Carroll. They got everybody out, left or right. In two years, the rules will say a relief pitcher has to face at least three batters. But that’s still only one inning. Nice work if you can get it.

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Q: If a batter hits a home run and has a heart attack running around first base and can’t complete the circuit, does the run count? — JEFF, Springboro.

A: How morbid you are. Nothing in the rule book covers this, but there is a precedent. In 2005 Gabe Kapler was on the second when a teammate hit a home run. As Kapler ran from second to third he tore his Achilles tendon and collapsed. The umpire ruled a pinch-runner could enter at this point and both runs counted. Who would have a heart attack after hitting a home run? And would they stop the game for medical attention before permitting a teammate to complete the trot around the bases? Most likely the game would be stopped right then.

Q: It is certain that Joey Votto would never say anything publicly about batting leadoff, but how does he really feel because it isn’t working for him or the Reds? — KYLE, Dayton.

A: You answered your own question. Votto would never complain about it, publicly or privately. It is not in his nature. He bats in the order where the manager places him, although manager David Bell did ask how he felt about it before putting him there. And Votto said, “Whatever you want, Skip.” However, he might have a hanging lip if Bell batted him ninth.

Q: Did anything stand out to you about Mike Fiers no-hitter against the Reds as opposed to other no-hitters you have seen? — KEITH, Brookville.

A: A no-hitter is a no-hitter is a no-hitter. As with all of them, much luck is involved. Hard-hit balls go right at fielders and usually there are two or three outstanding defensive players to save it. There were at least three defensive dazzlers during Fiers no-hitter. If you are a true baseball fan, no matter which team for which you are rooting, you have to appreciate a no-hitter.

Q; Why does Reds manager David Bell hate Jose Peraza, because after Peraza did a good job at leadoff in 2018 he didn’t bat leadoff in spring training and isn’t batting leadoff now? — VIN, New York City.

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A: Bell doesn’t hate Peraza. He genuinely likes all of his players, which is why he plays them all. While Peraza hit for average and displayed some power last year, he nearly never walks and his on base average isn’t up to leadoff standards. That’s why Votto is batting leadoff so much. He gets on base, even though he is slow afoot and runs the bases like a frightened squirrel. Bell is somewhat strapped. the Reds don’t have a natural leadoff hitter, although with the plate discipline he is showing, Nick Senzel might be the answer.

Q: Have you ever watched and covered a game from the Hal McCoy Press Box at Howell Field in North Dayton? — RON, Vandalia.

A: It is on my Bucket List. I haven’t been there since they humbled me by dedicating what was then a refurbished press box. Unfortunately, the Reds don’t play any games at Howell Field, although the stands there probably would hold some of the crowds showing up at Great American Ball Park.


Q: During the Oakland-Cincinnati delay last week when the lights wouldn’t come on, they interviewed Joe Oliver and he said he was managing in the minors and knows what it takes to win, so does he have the skills and temperament to manage in the majors? — JACK, Fairborn.

A: That interview was a tape from 2015 when the 1990 Reds team was honored in Great American Ball Park for its 25th anniversary. At the time Oliver was managing the Lowell Spinners, a short-season Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Since then he has steadily climbed the ladder and currently manages the Class AA Portland Sea Dogs. When he played I always thought he would be a great manager. Catchers seem to have the knack and every pitcher had his utmost respect and confidence. So, my answer: a firm and solid yes. He has the same extremely large head as San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy. Teammate Bret Boone once asked me, “Which would you rather have, a million dollars or Joe Oliver’s head full of nickels?” It’s a toss-up.

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