By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — What Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell needs to do before next season is take a Ball-Peen hammer and give all his pitchers a couple of whacks on the elbow — just enough to shake loose a couple of impediments to float in the elbow.
Well, it was revealed Wednesday afternoon that pitcher Sonny Gray underwent elbow surgery Wednesday morning to remove a couple of loose impediments.
And to top it off, Gray pitched all season with the floating pieces of bone in the elbow. They were there during spring training.
So it is sort of like when people complained to President Abraham Lincoln about General Ulysses S. Grant’s excessive drinking. Lincoln said, “Find out what brand he drinks and give it to all of our generals.”
That’s why Bell needs to somehow put loose impediments or floating bodies in the elbows of all his pitchers.
Gray was 11-8 with a 2.87 earned run average and despite the floating impediments he never missed a start. He took the mound 31 times and never gave up more than four runs and never gave up more than six hits.
“He had the elbow surgery that we knew way back in spring training he was going to have to have,” said Bell. “Everything was successful. It won’t even affect his off-season and he’ll be good to go by spring training.”
Asked if it was surprising that Gray was so dominant with particles dangling in his elbow, Bell laughed and said, “Obviously. He was able to have just an incredible season. There were symptoms that didn’t really affect him when he was pitching. But it was something that could affect him in the future so he wanted to get it taken care of as soon as he could.
“We knew it was something he could get through the year with, but needed taken care of as soon as the season was over,” Bell added. There was no pain involved when he pitched and Bell said, “There were just some symptoms, every day stuff, like not being able to straighten his arm all the way out. Little things, but nothing that affected his pitching. But it could have led to that.
“We were confident he could make it through the year and he did that and had just a great year.”
Bell had a game to manage Wednesday night and a day game Thursday before he visits Ace Hardware to look for a Ball-Peen hammer.
BELL WAS A LITTLE kid running around the Reds clubhouse when his father, Buddy Bell, played for the Reds. And Marty Brennaman was in the mid-years of his 46-year run as the team’s radio play-by-play guy.
Now, Bell is completing his first year as Reds manager and Brennaman is completing his last as broadcaster.
“I realize how much Marty means to this team and to this city,” said Bell. “Being from here, it was really important for me to do a good job, mainly on the pre-game radio show with him every day.
“I wanted to live up to his expectations and do a great job for him,” Bell added. “He even had to start the tape recorder over a few times and he didn’t make me feel too bad about it.”
Bell was appreciative that Brennaman took it easy on him, threw him more softball questions than high, hard ones.
“When somebody is so great at what they do and it is so natural and it not being my specialty, I worried about doing a great job with this guy. I enjoyed it because he asked great questions.
“It gave me an opportunity to really get to know him, more than I ever have, even though I grew up listening to him,” said Bell. “I’d never got to know him. It was very enjoyable for me and great to have that time with him.”
Bell was asked if it was difficult to separate the memories of Marty while Bell was growing up and now working with him professionally.
“I often feel like it is back when I was a little kid running around the clubhouse,” he said. “It is probably why I look at him the way I do. Growing up, I was like any other fan. Then when my dad played here I had a different level of interest.
“Those games meant so much to me and my family and to listen to a guy who was so good at describing the action, especially on the road when we weren’t able to go the games, was special.
“The best way I can describe it is that those games were so important to me and he had a way of making every game feel just as important to him and that is a real gift.”