Posted on: March 2, 2012 1:12 pm
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Let the debate begin anew over whether it's time for the National League to adopt the designated hitter.
Pittsburgh's A.J. Burnett is out two to three months with a broken orbital bone suffered while bunting in the batting cage. And while he waits for the healing to begin, plenty of folks are chiming in, using him as Exhibit A for those who think it's time pitchers stopped batting altogether.
That's all well and good. But don't tell that to Reds pitcher Homer Bailey. The Cincinnati right-hander batted .282 with a .300 on-base percentage in 45 plate appearances last summer. He knocked home two runners.
"I think pitchers should hit in both leagues," Bailey says.
As for Burnett's injury ... hogwash, says Bailey.
"You have position players that foul balls off their feet and get hurt," Bailey says. "It's just a freak deal. You could have a position player do the same thing.
"Typically, pitchers are better bunters."
He's right. As ever, there remains no reason why pitchers should be such non-athletes that they're hopeless cases at the plate. Pitchers who can handle a bat, even to get a bunt down, help themselves. That's an advantage. Why take that advantage away?
"If it's that much of a problem," Bailey said of Burnett and the idea of pitchers injuring themselves batting, "then how come position players get hurt fouling balls off of their legs? They suffer torn hamstrings running to first, or torn knees.
"Look at what happened to Ryan Howard last year."
Howard this spring continues rehabbing the Achilles he tore during the last play of the Phillies' NLCS against St. Louis.
Sunblock Day? Nah. Jackets needed Friday morning as the temperature continues to struggle to get past 60 and a stiff wind blows.
Likes: Copies of USA Today's daily crossword puzzle and Sudoku puzzle stacked on a table in the middle of the Cincinnati clubhouse and several Reds stopping by to pick one up to work it. Those Reds, they're thinkers. ... Eric Davis in Reds camp, as usual, as an alumni coach. He loves everything about it, but don't tell him that the players keep him young. "I look younger than most of these guys in here," Davis says, and he's right. ... The jerk salmon at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurant in Glendale. Surprisingly tasty. ... Heard a tune by The Hollies in a restaurant the other day, which reminded me of how unappreciated The Hollies are today. So much good stuff -- Bus Stop, Carrie Anne, Just One Look, (Long Cool Woman) In a Black Dress, On a Carousel, Under My Umbrella, The Air That I Breathe. They're celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, too, just like the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones. ... The burgers at Five Guys. ... Learning that the Monkees actually have a direct link to David Bowie. Turns out, the latter's real name was Davy Jones. Yep, same as the Monkees' legend who passed away this week. So as an aspiring musician in the 1960s, knowing he couldn't be known as Davy Jones, he became David Bowie.
Dislikes: The photo cameras at red lights and, especially, the ones designed to catch speeders. They had a bunch of those on the freeways in Arizona a couple of years ago, but they're gone now. Someone told me one of the problems was the gun-toters here periodically would shoot the cameras on the freeways to put them out of operation. No idea whether that's true. But I sure like to think it is.
Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"If you don't eat your meat
"You can't have any pudding
"How can you have any pudding
"If you don't eat your meat?"
-- Pink Floyd, Another Brick in the Wall
Posted on: March 9, 2011 4:30 pm
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It is not a stretch to say that rookie Mike Leake was a key spark that helped light Cincinnati's baseball Renaissance during the first half of 2010.
So how could it be, then, that the young right-hander is scratching and clawing for a rotation job here this spring ... and has a better than 50/50 chance of opening the season at Triple-A Louisville?
Well, circumstances broke just right for Leake last year at this time and he completely skipped the minor leagues, jumping from Arizona State to the bigs. He was the first starting pitcher in the majors to accomplish that since Jim Abbott with the Angels in 1989.
But a couple of things are at issue this year: One, the length of last season eventually wore him down and the Reds wound up pulling him from the rotation late in the season. And two, behind Edinson Volquez, Bronson Arroyo and Johnny Cueto, the Reds have a growing number of other good young arms.
Essentially, it's a three-person battle for the last two slots in the rotation among Leake, Homer Bailey and Travis Wood. One disadvantage facing Leake is that Bailey is out of options (meaning, the Reds now have to place him on waiver and risk losing him before they can send him back to the minors). Consequently, Bailey probably has a job won unless he turns in an absolute clunker of a spring.
At roughly 5-10 and 175 pounds, Leake, who went 8-4 with a 4.23 ERA in 24 games (22 starts) last year for the Reds, remains a wisp of a guy.
"You hope he's getting stronger," manager Dusty Baker says. "He was a little kid [last year].
"I was always told there are kid muscles and there are man muscles, and he don't have his man muscles yet."
The Reds still value Leake, 23, and appreciate that he helped launch them early in 2010 toward their greatest heights since 1995. But like other very young pitchers, he still hase some developing to do.
"He was our best starter over the first eight or 10 weeks and he was on the worst schedule," Cincinnati pitching coach Bryan Price says. "Because we were trying to limit his innings, he wasn't on an every-five-days schedule."
Whenever the Reds had an extra off day, they pushed Leake back, and he often started with five or six days' rest, rather than just four. As Price says, those are not optimal conditions for a starting pitcher.
"I think we have a chance to start [the season] with Mike because he's a winner," Price says. "We have a good problem [with many talented, young arms], but it's going to be a bad problem for one of the guys."
There is a chance the odd man out among Bailey, Wood and Leake could pitch out of the bullpen, but those circumstances would have to be extenuating. The Reds' first choice would be to send whomever does not make the big league rotation to Triple-A Louisville so the kid can continue to develop.
Sunblock Day? SPF 50, baby. Warmest day yet in Arizona, in the 80s, with the 90s right around the corner.
Likes: Eric Davis in uniform as an instructor in Reds camp. ... Joe Morgan visiting. ... The fried chicken and biscuits at Culinary Dropouts in Scottsdale. ... The Fennville, Mich., boys high school team winning an emotional district tournament opener after the unspeakable death of one of its players last week following a game-winning shot to cap a 20-0 season. Former colleague Jeff Seidel captured the heartbreak and the optimism nicely in this story.
Dislikes: None today. How can there be any after reading the gripping story above? Just prayers and thoughts.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Shadows are falling and I'm running out of breath
-- Warren Zevon, Keep Me in Your Heart