By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — Tyler Mahle and Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell engaged in a little heart-to-heart round table discussion Saturday afternoon.
After his start Friday night, Mahle expressed displeasure to the media that Bell carries a quick hook in his back pocket, that Bell removes him too quickly from games.
If there was one message Bell should have conveyed to his 24-year-old right hander it would be this: “If you want to stay in games, don’t throw 96 pitches in 4 1/3 innings.”
That’s what Mahle did Friday night and he had two on and one out in the fifth inning, trailing by 2-0 when Bell came calling with a removal slip.
What probably hurt Mahle most was that his replacement, Wandy Peralta, gave up a grand slam home run and two of those runs were added to Mahle’s record.
Mahle is the third Reds pitcher this year to complain about Bell’s handling. Closer Raisel Iglesias babbled about being used in tie games, saying he only should be used in save situations.
That, of course, is utter nonsense, although Iglesias’ 1-and-6 record indicates that his emphasis isn’t on winning games, it is more on saves. He is 13 for 15 in save situations.
He needs to get over his inflated ego stance, believing he is the second coming of Mariano Rivera or Trevor Hoffman. When asked to pitch, whatever the situation, pitch to the best of your ability and don’t whine.
The other complainer was Tanner Roark, who occupies the locker next door to Mahle. He, too, took issue with quick removals.
Mahle’s words Friday night were: “I have been yanked out of some games where I think I’m having a real good game, or a decent game. I haven’t got the chance to battle through a game, battle through six innings.
“My last game I got pulled after 70-some pitches, you know,” he said. “I know this game I had 90-something. But in my opinion I at least deserve to get out of the fifth, or least get through the fifth. I’d like to see where that last batter goes. I’m usually one ground ball or one pop-up away and I get taken out of the game. It is getting pretty ridiculous at this point.”
Those are peculiar words, a head-scratcher from a guy who is 2-and-7 with a 4.46 earned run average for his 13 starts.
Bell takes the high road on this one.
“There is such a high level of intensity and emotions and sometimes you are caught at a moment that is high stress,” said Bell, knowing where Mahle is coming from.
“I want guys to be competitive and I don’t want them coming out of games. This creates an opportunity to have conversations and we’ve already done that today,” Bell added about his pre-game get together with Mahle. “We’re going to continue to do that later today.
“All in all, I see it as a positive,” he said. “It takes everything you have to be good in this game. It doesn’t surprise me when things like that are said. I don’t see it as a negative, but it does create an opportunity for conversation to make sure as we move forward we’re handling this the best way we can, all of us.”
Bell said as far as he is concerned, it is now a dead issue and added, “I expect these things to happen, just because of what it takes to play this game. Tyler is a great teammate and he is super competitive. He is a big part of our staff and I don’t want to change Tyler one bit.
“But I do want to do my part to talk through things, listen. . .and for that I’m grateful that it happened to give me an opportunity, glad it happened.”
Mahle’s other frustration most likely stems from the fact he realizes that he is the man on the bubble to be replaced in the rotation when Alex Wood comes off the injured list.
BELL USED A TERM that former manager Dusty Baker refused to use when he managed the Reds and was part of the reason Baker was fired.
When Baker’s last season was near its end and the Reds were stumbling, Baker was asked if there was “a sense of urgency” with the team. Baker said no and refused to acknowledge the meaning of the term.
But before Saturday’s game with the Texas Rangers Bell used the term with no prodding or urging.
When the game began, the Reds were back in last place, seven games under .500 and eight games out of first place.
“There is some urgency as to what we have to do,” he said. “At the same time, there is a level of patience while some guys are working through things. That’s a reality of this game that we play.
“Finding a balance (a sense of urgency and patience) is something I spend a lot of time thinking about every day, both individually and as a team,” he said. “That’s what’s great about this job. That’s going to be the key — we can’t wait around too long, yet we have guys with good strong track records doing everything they can and we believe in them. There is a level of patience we have to have to have success and I’m willing to do that.”
The season, though, is just three games away from the halfway point and patience in baseball doesn’t survive an entire season. For the Reds it is close to the point that players must produce or many will be wearing new uniforms in August, and that doesn’t mean throwback uniforms.