A: Rope isn’t needed on the mound, just command and control. Iglesias was one step below awful last year. He’ll start as the closer, but in a 60-game season he’ll need to start fast and stay fast. If not, manager David Bell quickly will explore other options.
Q: What are the new rules for writers in the press box? — GREG, Beavercreek.
A: Masks, of course, which is apropos for me because sometimes, because I love my job so much, I feel as if I’m stealing money. Six feet between seats, which might be a challenge because this year they moved the press box, from an expansive luxury box behind home plate to a chicken coop down the third base line. Media will not be permitted out of the box. There will be no one-on-one interviews with players, no personal contact with players. If it sounds as if it might be better covering games from home. Look for me in The Man Cave in my blue leather recliner, enjoying a Montecristo Churchill cigar while I keep score in front of my Smart TV.
Q: Any idea why there are so few left-handed catchers? — WALTER, Corydon, Ind.
A: Few? How about none. I assume you mean throwing catchers because there are many, many catchers who bat left handed. The last catcher to throw left handed in the majors was Benny Distefano in 1983, and he caught only three games. There have been only 30 left handed catchers in MLB history that caught at least one game. The only southpaw catcher who caught a lot of games was Jack Clements. He caught more than 800 games for the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1880s. Being left handed myself, I see no logical reason why a left hander can’t catch. My stepson, Chad, was a left-handed catcher in high school and the main problem was finding a left handed catcher’s mitt.
Q: Would the shortened season make it feasible to go with a four-man starting rotation? — ALAN, Sugarcreek Twp.
A: Are you old enough to remember before the 1970’s when teams went with a four-man rotation over 154 games? And they pitched complete games. To me there is no reason why a team can’t go with a four-man rotation, especially since starters rarely go more than six innings anyway. Cincinnati’s Trevor Bauer says he prefers to pitch every fourth day, but Trevor Bauer says a lot of things.
Q: With each game having more meaning in the standings, who are typical fast starters that I should I bet one? — JACKI, Dayton.
A: First of all, Jacki, there is no betting on baseball…at least not in Ohio. Every season is different, and this one certainly is the most different of all. In a 60-game season, pitching probably most important (Hint: Cincinnati Reds), so if you must wager — and I know you don’t — look for teams with the best starting pitching to get off fast.
Q: With the 50th anniversary of Riverfront Stadium, what is your greatest memory of a game or personnel? — BILL, Washington Twp.
A: When you have covered more than 7,000 games, about 3,000 in long-gone Riverfront, that’s a tough assignment. But I’ll try with: Pete Rose’s 4,192nd hit, Tom Browning’s perfect game, Johnny Bench’s home run on his night, Tom Seaver’s no-hitter and any day/night that Eric Davis played. Truthfully, I enjoyed every game during which I was privileged to sit in the press box.
Q: What is your favorite memory of the 1990 World Series? — JAMES, Campbellsville, Ky.
A: Too many to mention, but here are a few: Eric Davis’ first game home run and his injury diving for a ball, Billy Hatcher’s parade of hits, Jose Rijo’s two victories, The Nasty Boys dominating the A’s, Tom Browning going to the hospital in uniform for the birth of a child, Chris Sabo’s victory speech and the priceless looks of astonishment on the faces of the Oakland Athletics as the Reds rolled to a four-game sweep. And many, many more.