By HAL McCOY
While college basketball teams are punching their tickets into the NCAA big dance, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tim Adleman probably tore up his ticket into the team’s starting rotation and is watching everybody else dance.
Adleman, who had pitched well this spring, suffered a nightmarish meltdown Thursday afternoon in Scottsdale, Ariz.’s HoHoKam Park.
AND IT WAS NIGHTMARE on Elm Street for the Reds, too. They gave up 10 runs in the first two innings en route to a 12-5 whacking by the Oakland Athletics.
Adleman and Kevin Shackelford walked seven A’s in only two innings and gave up seven hits. For the day, Reds pitchers gave up a untenable 10 walks.
Adleman pitched 1 2/3 innings and gave up five runs, three hits, four walks and threw a wild pitch. Shackelford pitched only a third of an inning and gave up five runs (three earned) and walked three.
ADLEMAN WAS LAST SEASONS’ heartwarming story after he was signed out of an independent league. The 29-year-old righthander made 13 starts the second half of last season and was 4-and-4 with a 4.00 earned run average.
He entered spring training as one of the legitimate candidates for one of the three available rotation spots.
Then came Thursday and this is how his disastrous day transpired:
FIRST INNING — Matt Joyce singled and then came two walks. A third straight walked forced in the first run. Then came a two-run double by Trevor Plouffe and it was 3-0. A sacrifice fly made it 4-0.
SECOND INNING — Adleman walked Matt Joyce to open the inning and then got an out. He was replaced by Shackelford and he walked Ryan Healy.
Shackelford struck out the next hitter, the second out, and was one out away from getting out of the inning.
But the A’s scored six runs.
Stephen Vogt doubled for two runs and a 6-1 score. Plouffe walked. Marcus Semien singled for a run. 7-1. Former Reds No. 1 draft pick Yonder Alonso singled for a run. 8-1. Shortstop Zack Cozart made a throwing error to load the bases. Joyce walked for the second time in the inning to force in a run. 9-1. Jed Lowrie punched an infield single for another run. 10-1.
The A’s scored a run in the third on a double by Kris Davis and a single by Plouffe against Barrett Astin to make it 11-1.
ROBERT STEPEHSNON, ANOTHER rotation candidate came on to pitch the fourth and the beatdown continued.
He began the inning with, what else?, a walk to Alonso. With two outs, Lowrie singled. Healy singled for a run to make it 12-1.
After a shaky first inning, Stephenson recovered with two scoreless innings and his three-inning line read: three innings, one run, three hits, two walks and three strikeouts.
THE REDS SENT A representative team to HoHoKam, mostly regulars, and got a solo home run from Adam Duvall and a solo home run from Arismendy Alcantara, two of the four hits through five innings by the regulars.
Billy Hamilton was 0 for 3 and is hitting .211. Zack Cozart was 0 for 3 and is hitting .231. Joey Votto was 0 for 1 with two walks and a strikeout and is hitting .235. Duvall was 1 for 3 (a homer) and is hitting .171. Eugenio Suarez was 1 for 3 and is hitting .389.
Veteran Desmond Jennings, trying to win a spot on the Reds bench, was 0 for 2 with a double play and a strikeout and is hitting .167. First baseman/outfielder Christin Walker, acquired three days ago off waivers from Atlanta, made his Reds debut as a designated hitter and was 0 for 2 with a strikeout.