Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price has no plans to change closer J.J. Hoover’s role anytime soon.
Hoover gave up a grand slam to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Starling Marte on the second pitch he threw in the eighth inning Friday night at Great American Ball Park. The Pirates turned a 5-2 deficit into a 6-5 lead with one swing and handed the Reds their first loss.
Hoover has faced 35 batters with the bases loaded in his career and allowed five grand slams. Price doesn’t see one early outing as a reason to make changes.
“I’d rather than not be a lot of ambiguity,” said Price on Saturday morning before the second game against the Pirates. “I think there are times when bullpen by committee is the way to go. I don’t think this is the time for that. I think J.J. is the most prepared out of our group to close at this time. He’s earned that right with the performance he had last year and in 2012-2013.
“I’m not compelled to try to see who else could do that job. But there are going to be days when J.J.’s not available, and we’re going to make a decision to not use him. That’ll create opportunities for some of the other guys.”
Price rarely brought Aroldis Chapman into pitch in the eighth with the idea of returning to close out the game in the ninth. That was the goal with Hoover on Friday, but he didn’t pitch the ninth after giving up the grand slam in the eighth.
“I’d like to get to the point where you don’t have to cover the eighth inning with your closer,” Price said. “I really would prefer not to do that. A lot of it depends on how fresh the guy is. J.J has only pitched in two games, but he’s been up in the bullpen for every single game.”