Ask Hal: Time running out for rotation decisions

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

Q: Pitcher Anthony DeSclafani is looking into getting a platelet-rich plasma injection to speed up his recovery, so are the Cincinnati Reds seeking plasma donors? DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A; If they are they would be looking for a few good men, not a couple of old guys like us with tired blood. Are you still on Geritol? The Reds already are bringing in new blood to replace old blood.

Q: How do you see the pitching rotation now that Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani are on the disabled list? — JAY, Englewood.

A: With little more than two weeks before Opening Day, all rotation candidates need to avoid the hallway leading to the training room. That’s where too many Reds pitchers spend too much time. Brandon Finnegan probably will be the Opening Day starter followed by journeyman Scott Feldman and three to be named later. There are seven solid candidates for three spots — Tim Adleman, Bronson Arroyo, Rookie Davis, Amir Garrett, Cody Reed, Sal Romano and Robert Stephenson. The final makeup may not be determined by who pitches the best the rest of spring training but by who can stay out of the training room.

Q: Based on your interaction with Edwin Encarnacion while he was with the Reds, is he a good fit for the Cleveland Indians? — LARRY, Washington Twp.

A: E.E. has come a long way from his days as a wild-throwing third baseman who had to be disciplined a couple of times for lack of hustle with the Reds. The maturation process worked extremely well for him. He is best suited as a DH or first baseman and since the Reds don’t employ a DH and first base is occupied by an entrenched Joey Votto, the American League Indians are a perfect fit. Fans not paying attention on that left field concourse in Progressive Field better have some good Progressive insurance.

Q: Who will be the leader on the field and in the clubhouse for the Reds? — DONALD, Grove City.

A: As the elder statesman with the most service, that label has to fall on Joey Votto, even if he prefers his privacy and is not vociferous. But he has taken it upon himself to be Billy Hamilton’s guru and the way he does the three P’s (prepare, practice, play) is something the other players notice and should emulate.

Q: How do the Reds plan to get Dilson Herrera at-bats regularly when he is healthy? — RYAN, Lewisburg.

A: He will get all the at-bats he needs at Class AAA Louisville. The Reds optioned him there last week. Herrera, obtained from the New York Mets in the Jay Bruce trade, had a bad shoulder last season and still has it. He can hit, but not throw. He was a DH the first three weeks of the spring and didn’t play in the field. He turned down a chance to play for Colombia in the World Baseball Classic because of the shoulder. It has to be a concern because the Reds see him playing second base soon with Jose Peraza moving to shortstop. Yes, Zack Cozart can keep his bags packed.

Q: I have a schedule for the Dayton Indians. Do you have any info/stories? — JEFF, Beavercreek.

A: Hy Shumsky, a Dayton businessman who died in 2011, helped form a Dayton minor league team in 1946. It was a Class D team called the Dayton Ducks in the Ohio State League. Shumsky started his business, Shumsky Enterprises, by selling trinkets out of his car trunk at old Hudson Field (West Third Street near Soldiers Home). In 1948 Bill Veeck bought the Cleveland Indians and made Dayton a Class A affiliate and changed the Ducks nickname to Indians in the Central League. The Indians existed until 1951 when the team folded and Dayton was without minor league baseball until the Dragons arrived in 2000. I’m guessing the Ducks-Indians never had 1,188 consecutive sellouts.

Q: Would you rather have two or three catchers on the roster? — MARK, Kettering.

A: That’s an interesting one in that Reds manager Bryan Price said the team will keep only two catchers, preferring an extra arm in the bullpen. Will Devin Mesoraco be healthy enough? For sure they will keep Tucker Barnhart. And they have Rule 5 catcher Stuart Turner, whom they have to keep all year on the 25-man roster or offer back to Minnesota, from whence he came, for $25,000. Maybe they’ll keep Barnhart and Stuart and start Mesoraco on the DL until he is game-ready.

Q: Why isn’t the World Baseball Classic played in the fall. Is football in America the primary reason or a fear of it overshadowing the World Series? — DENNY, Huber Heights.

A: Although a lot of us think of the U.S. as the world, it isn’t. It is a world tournament and the U.S. has no say when it is played. Unfortunately it is played during spring training, which means a lot of U.S. players won’t leave their teams to play in it, watering down our team a bit. And nothing can take away from the World Series. As far as fan appeal, the WBC in the U.S. ranks somewhere around Celebrity Bowling.


Q: Why did the commissioner nix a trade the Reds made in the late 1970s with Oakland for All-Star pitcher Vida Blue and who was in that trade? FUDD, Cedarville.

A: Oakland owner Charles O. Finley was strapped for cash and began trading his stars for lesser players and money. At the winter meetings in Hawaii in 1977 Finley traded Blue to the Reds for minor-league first baseman Dave Revering and $1 million. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, constantly in battle with Finley, deemed the trade too unbalanced and said no to the deal, calling it, “Not in the best interests of baseball.” The Reds were so confident Blue would pitch for them that his picture, wearing a Reds hat, and his biography are on page 23 of the 1978 Reds media guide (a collector’s item), right between Jack Billingham and Bill Bonham. But he never threw a pitch for them.

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