By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — It isn’t often that the Cincinnati Reds and Oakland A’s are on the same field, other than spring training, and Reds manager Bryan Price most likely appreciates that, as does A’s manager Bob Melvin.
That’s because they are close friends and as Price said, “We are in touch with each other quite often.”
They have a lot in common and one of the things isn’t a positive right now as the two teams began a three-game series Friday night in Great American Ball Park. They both occupy last place in their respective divisions and have a lot with which to commiserate.
IN THE MID-2000’S Melvin managed the Arizona Diamondbacks and Price was his pitching coach. When the D-backs fired Melvin in 2009, they wanted to Price to stay. But in deference and for the respect he had for Melvin he quit.
“Bob Melvin never forgets how hard the game is to play,” said Price. “As you hear from so many commentators who played the game for so long who may have been good or very average in their playing days, you turn on the TV and we get told how guys should be doing, like the game is that simple.
“As much as Bob demands total preparation and work ethic and commitment from his players, he also understands that the game is very difficult to play,” said Price. “A lot of managers lose faith in their players quickly. He does not. He gets to know his guys, has great communication and he sticks with his guys who have been there and have done it, through ups and down.
“And I believe in that, too,” Price added. “If you believe in the credibility of the player you need to run with those guys until they prove otherwise.”
PRICE WAS UPBEAT (what else would he be?) over his team’s first three draft picks Thursday — University of Tennessee third baseman Nick Senzel, high school outfielder Taylor Trammell from Kennesaw, Ga. and Clemson catcher Chris Okey.
What, no pitchers? That, for the position-thin Reds system, is a good thing.
“We’re very excited because they are guys we wanted and we were very fortunate they were still available and we were able to get,” said Price. “We felt like we got the best player in the draft (Senzel), we felt like we got the best catcher in the draft (Okey) and one of the most talented all-around players in Trammel.”
Price, though, threw out the caution flag, too.
“Baseball is such a funny game,” he said. “Some guys go completely unhyped and become superstars and some early picks don’t. There is such a large in-between. But we go into it with high expectations with these three kids.”
PITCHER ANTHONY DeSCLAFANI made his 2016 pitching debut Friday night and Price feels like a kid who finds an X-Box under his Christmas tree when his parents told him he was getting a bucket of coal.
“We have really high hopes for Anthony, coming off a really good year (9-13), his first full season in the big leagues,” said Price. “After the initial ambiguity over whether he was a big league starting pitcher, he answered that, that he was reliable and effective.
“Also, he epitomizes everything we believe in here,” Price added. “It is hard work, it is preparation and it is competing from his first pitch to his last pitch. He does that. There is no give with this kid. And the guys playing behind him are going to be happy.”
PITCHER MICHAEL LORENZEN, absent since spring training with mononucleosis was in the clubhouse Friday for a brief workout-visit. He threw a bullpen, did some running, performed some lifting, then packed his gear to start a rehab assignment at Class AAA Louisville.
Price was asked if forgot what Lorenzen looks like and he said with a broad smile, “I don’t forget what he looks like,” said Price. “But you never know what type of hair these guys are going to come up with — long, short, the mohawk. You don’t know if there is a tattoo or a piercing. In this day and age you just don’t know what you are going to see.”
Lorenzen lost considerable weight during his absence but appears to have packed it back on, “But the way he is exercising, competing and performing and throwing there isn’t any concerns about his physical health.”
Lorenzen wore long stringy hair last year and now wears a modified mohawk. And speaking of tattoos, left handed pitcher John Lamb has one stretched on his back from shoulder-to-shoulder that says, “Southpaw.” Said one observer, “Maybe he sometimes forgets he’s left handed.”
PITCHER HOMER BAILEY performed some outfield long-tossing before Friday’s game as he slowly trudges back toward re-joining the rotation, perhaps in July.
“He has some stuff to go through, some bullpens to throw and then he’ll go to Arizona to do some simulated games before he gets into his throwing rehab and most of that will be done with Class AAA Louisville.”
When the Reds began another long trip Monday in Atlanta, nine games in 10 days, it is Alfredo Simon’s turn to pitch. It isn’t going to happen. Simon, 2-and-6 with a 9.11 earned run average. won’t make that start.
“It’s a TBA (to be announced) at this point and I’ll have more on that tomorrow,” said Price. “Mostly likely it is an internal option, somebody already here.” Daniel Wright, come on down.