By HAL McCOY
Stop reading right now if you’ve heard all this before and don’t want to hear about history repeating itself.
All right, if you’re still with us, the Cincinnati Reds suffered a double punch to the solar plexus Sunday when they lost not one, but two starting pitchers to injuries in a short span.
Injuries to starting pitchers have been the norm for the Reds the past two seasons and has struck again, this time to Anthony DeSclafani (again) and Brandon Finnegan (again).
Before Sunday’s exhibition game in Peoria, Ariz., against the Seattle Mariners, Reds manager Bryan Price revealed to the media that DeSclafani suffered an injury to his left oblique muscle in his previous start.
Then Brandon Finnegan took the mound for his first spring start and faced two batters and threw 12 pitches. After a four-pitch walk to the second hitter, all high balls, trainer Steve Baumann, Price and pitching coach Mack Jenkins ran to the mound.
Finnegan departed with left forearm spasms.
It is unclear at this juncture how much time the two will miss, but oblique injuries historically take considerable time to heal and it is very likely DeSclafani won’t be around for Opening Day.
Right now, Finnegan is day-to-day until he can be checked out and the seriousness of the injury can be diagnosed.
DeSclafani missed all of last season with a strained ligament in his elbow. He tried a rehab start for Class A Dayton on August 3 and faced nine batters. All nine reached base and he didn’t pitch again.
Finnegan made only four starts last season and spent most of the season on the disabled list with shoulder issues and was on the 60-day disable list from June 28 through the rest of season.
If all had gone well this spring, it looked as if the Reds rotation would be Homer Bailey, DeSclafani, Finnegan, Luis Castillo and Sal Romano.
Bailey, of course, is coming off three arm surgeries and hasn’t pitched much in the last three seasons. And he was roughed up in his last spring start — six runs and seven hits in three innings.
Fortunately for the Reds, there are semi-experienced young arms in camp that can be slotted into any vacant spots — Tyler Mahle, Michael Lorenzen, Robert Stephenson and Amir Garrett.
Stephenson and Lorenzen have been wildly ineffective this spring, although Lorenzen stepped it up Sunday against the Mariners — three innings, one run, three hits, no walks and three strikeouts in a 6-5 Reds victory.
Mahle has been outstanding so far and Garrett had three appearances during which he gave up no runs and no hits while walking none and striking out 10. But he ran into a snag in his last appearance and was beat around.
Pitching, of course, has been the weak, weak, weak point the past three seasons, with injuries contributing mightily. The starters last season had a 5.55 earned run average, worst in the National League and the bullpen was second worst.
Finnegan started Sunday’s game by striking out Ichiro Suzuki on eight pitches. Then he walked Jean Segura on four wild ones and was removed.
The Reds amassed 16 hits in Sunday’s wild affair. Seven of the eight starters had at least one hit. Only Scott Schebler was hitless at 0 for 3.
Billy Hamilton led the game with a single, his first hit this spring after going 0 for 19. He went 1 for 3. Joey Votto recorded his second hit of the spring (he was 1 for 17) and he was 1 for 3.
Scooter Gennett, Jose Peraza and Tucker Barnhart all went 2 for 3 while Eugenio Suarez and Adam Duvall went 1 for 3.
However, it was the late-inning minor-league shock troops who rescued the game.
The Reds trailed, 4-2, in the top of the ninth. But they scored four runs off Mike Morin in the top of the ninth. The first four Reds reached base and six of the first seven.
Rossel Herrera walked, Phillip Ervin doubled Alex Blandino singled to cut the deficit to 4-3 and Tony Cruz hit a three-run homer to put the Reds in front, 6-4.
And then the game ended in bizarre fashion.
Dylong Floro started the bottom of the ninth for the Reds and recorded the first out. Chuck Taylor singled off Floro’s body. After a strikeout for the second out, Danny Muno doubled, putting the potential tying run on second.
Evan White singled off second baseman Brandon Dixon’s glove, scoring Taylor, but Muno tried to score from second to tie the game and Dixon threw to catcher Joe Hudson for the game-ending out.