The Reds called up pitcher Sam LeCure and optioned pitcher Dylan Axelrod to the minor leagues on Wednesday, the team announced. LeCure had a 3.81 ERA over 56 2/3 innings last season while Axelrod produced a 7.30 ERA over 12 1/3 innings this season.
When the Reds sent reliever Sam LeCure to Triple-A Louisville at the end of spring training, they were looking for him to get better command of his fastball. LeCure has a 3.68 ERA in five appearances for Louisville this season. It's a positive sign, but the Reds are still waiting to see a change in his fastball. "I think he's doing a nice job of managing the games he's getting into," Reds manager Bryan Price said, per MLB.com. "Our primary focus with Sam when he went to Triple-A was to get the fastball command back. in the second half of last year, it was more challenging for him. It's such a big pitch – that two-seam sinker, comebacker that he throws. He was able to lean a bit more on the curveball and changeup last year. I think for him to be the impact pitcher he was for us in the past, the fastball command will need to come back in force. And I have not lost any optimism that he'll be a part of this bullpen here over the course of the season. We certainly miss his influence."
With the surprising demotion of reliever Sam LeCure to the minors Thursday, the Reds' Opening Day bullpen is set. It will feature closer Aroldis Chapman, Burke Badenhop, Kevin Gregg, Jumbo Diaz, Tony Cingrani, Manny Parra and J.J. Hoover, per MLB.com. Gregg was the only non-roster invitee among the group.
The Reds announced Thursday they outrighted pitcher Sam LeCure to Triple-A Louisville, per MLB.com. They also reassigned starting pitcher prospect Michael Lorenzen to minor-league camp. "The LeCure thing, I never could have seen that coming when we began spring training," manager Bryan Price said, per MLB.com. "I think it breaks all of our hearts that he's not on this ball club right now. We anticipate him being back. I think we feel he's not at his best where he needs to be to help us right now. We've got to get him back there. He should be a big part of our team this season. We're all just a wreck about him not being with us at this point in time. I'm very confident that he will be back with us."
While Aroldis Chapman is locked in as the Reds' closer, the eighth-inning job remains up in the air for the club as spring training winds down, according to MLB.com. Sean Marshall is still recovering from shoulder surgery in 2014, leaving the set-up man spot as an open competition between a trio of players - Sam LeCure, Manny Parra and J.J. Hoover. "I think right now what we're doing is we're trying to figure out who our best options are," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "We're going to have to evolve as a bullpen. I think we know that Chapman's the closer and that we're going to have to evolve into roles to a certain degree," Price added. "Opening Day, I couldn't tell you who would be in the eighth inning. … There's a lot of balls in the air with the bullpen beyond the closer."