Repeated struggles force Reds to ship Reed to Triple-A

The Cincinnati Reds recalled pitcher Austin Brice from Triple-A Louisville on Thursday. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Cincinnati Reds recalled pitcher Austin Brice from Triple-A Louisville on Thursday. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price sat down with Cody Reed prior to Wednesday’s game to stress how important it was for him to be able to rely on the pitcher’s command.

Reed responded by walking four batters in two innings of relief, and Thursday morning the team sent him to Triple-A Louisville and called up Austin Brice.

“Everybody that comes up here is going to get hit from time to time,” Price said. “The one message we want to send to everybody in our organization is that you have to be able to throw strikes. That’s just the No. 1 prerequisite to come into the major leagues is you have to be able to throw strikes.

“He can,” Price continued. “He’s struggled. I don’t know if it’s pitching out of the bullpen. I don’t know what it is specifically that’s allowed him to struggle with his command this year compared to what we saw in spring training a year ago and again this spring. But his command hasn’t been nearly as good as we saw when we initially had him both in Double-A, Triple-A and then spring training a year ago.”

In seven appearances – one start, six in relief – this season, Reed had issued a team-high 15 walks in 14.0 innings.

Brice was 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA, six strikeouts and four walks at Louisville after struggling with an elbow issue in spring training.

“Toward the beginning part of the spring when it was a little bit colder it was getting stiff on me and then it eventually gave up on me,” said Brice, who posted a 15.75 ERA in four appearances in Arizona.

“I think I was topping out at 90 (mph). It was bad, in terms of performance for me,” Brice added. “I was trying to get through it, but it was one of those things that I had to finally throw in the towel and say hey, I’m not doing myself any favors here, just tearing up my arm.”

Brice said things started clicking in his last three outings at Louisville in which he threw 5.2 innings without allowing an earned run and struck out three with no walks.

“I don’t think he was representing himself very well initially (in spring training) just because he was trying to pitch through something we didn’t know about,” Price said. “Since then he’s gotten his arm in shape and he’s thrown the ball better, good command. We got good reports from Delino in Louisville that he had been throwing the ball well, in particular this last time out, his three-inning outing three days ago.”

Price said he thinks Reed will benefit from pitching on a more regular basis at Louisville. Reed had pitched just three times in the two weeks leading up to his demotion.

Getting more work for Reed and Robert Stephenson is something Price said is important.

“They cannot be here for a whole year and average 10 innings a month,” he said. “That would not be enough. The obvious move is to keep them working at times in Louisville unless they’re getting regular time here on our active roster. We needed to get Cody some steady work in Triple-A, and we needed to get a fresh arm up here.”

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