By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — So is Raisel Iglesias the closer or is he not the closer? It looks as if the term ‘closer’ doesn’t fit manager David Bell’s vocabulary. And the situation remains fluid.
Iglesias, the closer, can’t seem to close anything other than his bedroom door these days. He hasn’t fit the peg that Bell wants to hang him on.
Way back in spring training Bell said he would use Iglesias for more than the ninth inning, that he would be used in the eighth inning if the game was on the line.
That hasn’t worked. Iglesias has lost seven games, an obscene number for a relief pitcher, especially a closer. Earlier this season Iglesias said he was being misused, that he is a ninth-inning closer and shouldn’t be used in tie games in the eighth inning.
Bell and Iglesias had a sitdown during which Bell did most of the chatting, basically telling Iglesias he would pitch when he is told to pitch. Publicly, Iglesias said he and Bell were now on the same page.
But it doesn’t look as if they are even in the same book because Iglesias continues to blow saves and lose games when he pitches in the eighth inning. His body language on the mound screams, “I’m mad as hell and I don’t want to be here.”
A couple of times recently, Bell has pitched Iglesias in the eighth or started him in the ninth and yanked him in favor of Michael Lorenzen. On Friday night, with the Reds leading, 6-3, the Cubs had two on with one out in the eighth.
Bell brought in Lorenzen to get the final two outs and then, with a save situation in the ninth, he ignored Iglesias and permitted Lorenzen to pitch the ninth and earn the save.
Bell said what he is doing is what a lot of teams are doing, moving away from the traditional designated closer role and pitching to situations.
“Every day is different, based on our bullpen’s availability, how each one of our guys match up against different parts of the opposition’s lineup,” said Bell. “It just makes sense not to limit yourself to using certain guys in certain innings.”
It makes total sense, especially when the guy who thinks of himself as a closer opens more doors than he slams shut.
“We’ve talked a lot about it and it involves a lot of communication with our pitchers,” Bell added. “We need the understanding and buy-in from the players. It is a little bit different, but not as different now because it has been going on with some teams for a few years.
“What you want to do is use guys where you think you get them the best chance to have success and to give our team the bet chance to have success.”
Bell was asked if it was an advantage to have the other team not know exactly who might come in to pitch. He agreed.
“Yeah, it can. I think so. Just having the freedom to use guys in different situations and be successful,” he said. “Success doesn’t have to be defined by only getting saves. Success is getting people out and help us win games.”
EARLY IN THE SEASON, Bell vacillated with his batting orders, sometimes batting the pitcher eighth and somebody else ninth. He went back-and-forth with it.
Then he quit using it for a spell. Now it is back. The last two games he has batted the pitcher eighth and catcher Curt Casali ninth.
“There are a few different factors,” he said. “We like Curt’s ability to get on base for the top of the order. And we like the bench we have right now. There is always the possibility of pinch-hitting guys at an earlier point in the order.
“With Derek Dietrich and Jesse Winker not starting the last couple of days, we can use them earlier and that’s another factor,” Bell added.
—Alex Wood has suffered at least three setbacks during his attempts to make it into the Reds pitching rotation as he tries to rehab a sore back.
The latest came last week in Milwaukee after he threw a side session and reported stiffness in his back the next day.
Manager David Bell said Wood will play catch before Sunday’s game to see how that goes before he climbs back on to a mound again.
There are some who are wondering if the Reds have another Ryan Madson on their hands. The Reds signed Madson in January, 2012 to be their closer. But he hurt his arm during spring training and didn’t throw a single pitch for the Reds all season and was paid $6 million.
But he came back and pitched from 2015 through 2018, pitching last season for the Washington Nationals and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Wood was acquired from the Dodgers over the winter to drop into the Reds rotation, but hasn’t thrown a pitch in anger while being paid $9.65 million. Said one Reds insider, “I don’t believe we’ll see Wood pitch for us this year.”
Meanwhile, left hander Cody Reed is on Class AAA Louisville’s injured list. He was the 26th man with the Reds on May 29 when they played a doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He injured the MCL in his left knee that day and on Saturday Bell said, “He still has a ways to go before he can come back. He is coming along OK, but the last I heard he was still 10 days to a couple weeks away from coming back.”