Two years ago, it was Dan Straily, grabbed by the Reds off waivers late in spring training.
Last season, it was Scooter Gennett, again grabbed off waivers late in camp.
Dylan Floro wasn’t a waiver claim, but he’s qualifying as 2018’s pleasant surprise. The right-hander, signed on Christmas Eve to a minor-league contract with an invitation to Cincinnati’s major-league spring training camp, pitched three innings of shutout relief for the second time this season to earn the decision in Thursday’s 7-5, 13-inning win over Colorado at Great American Ball Park.
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Floro, 27, improved to 2-1 with a 3.12 earned-run average in 17 games this season. The former Ray and Cub earned his first career win in the opener of the May 19 day-night doubleheader against the Cubs.
“He’s been outstanding,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said after Thursday’s win. “He’s been both durable and effective. Sometimes, you get one or the other. You get someone who’s durable but ineffective or vice versa.”
Floro didn’t make the team for Opening Day, but he was promoted from Triple-A Louisville on April 13 when right-hander Ariel Hernandez was designated for assignment and right-hander Tanner Rainey was optioned to the Bats.
“He was a great find by the front office to get into camp this spring,” Riggleman said. “He earned a spot. Regardless of how we’ve used him, he’s been composed, and when he walks through the clubhouse, you hardly know he’s here.”
Long time: According to the Reds’ game notes for Friday, Chris Winker on Thursday became the first player since the New York Yankees’ Hector Lopez on May 29, 1960, against the Senators at Washington to come off the bench, go 3-for-3 and finish the game with a walkoff home run.
“That’s pretty cool,” Winker said Friday. “In fact, that’s very cool. I had no idea. I was just happy to get the win. That was a hot one. I was glad to get out of it.”
Winker, who was in Friday’s starting lineup and went into the game with hits in each of his last four plate appearances, didn’t get much social media feedback from his first career walkoff home run.
“Just family,” he said. “They all watched the game. That was very cool.”
Remembering Red: The Reds were planning a moment of silence before Friday’s game against St. Louis to honor long-time Cardinals second baseman and manager Red Schoendienst, who passed away on Wednesday. At 95, Schoendienst was the oldest living Baseball Hall of Fame member.
During his 19-year playing career, 15 of which he spent with St. Louis, the switch-hitting Schoendienst played in more games – 319 – and drove in more runs – 135 – against the Reds than any other team, according to baseball-reference.com. His 360 career hits and 183 runs against Cincinnati were second-highest.
Schoendienst especially enjoyed hitting at Crosley Field. He played more games there than any other road ballpark and his .315 average in Cincinnati ranks third among figures at road venues – second if you throw out the .387 he hit in the mere seven games he played at Seals Stadium in San Francisco, the Giants’ home after moving from New York before Candlestick Park opened.
Riggleman, a long-time member of the Cardinals’ organization, fondly remembered Schoendienst.
“Manager Whitey Herzog put me on his staff with the Cardinals in 1989, and Red was there as a coach,” Riggleman said. “There was no term at the time called bench coach, but that’s really what Red was. He was in uniform in the dugout and on the field during batting practice.
“Just a great man, and Whitey loved him and relied on him. He was generous with his time and the most pleasant guy. His closest friend was (Hall of Famer) Stan Musial, and you’d never know those two guys played baseball. They never talked about their achievements. They were just great, humble people – just a wonderful man.”
Riggleman was reminded that Schoendienst, who managed the Cardinals to a World Series-championship in 1967 and in a seven-game Series loss to Detroit in 1968, came back from tuberculosis in 1959 to play in a limited role for four more seasons.
“He was such a strong man,” Riggleman said. “Whitey used to talk about playing golf with Red and how far he could hit a golf ball with the power in his hands and arms – and what a player. A great career, and he managed in a World Series. He had an amazing career.”