By Mark Carpenter –
Raisel Iglesias slipped in the shower, injured his back and elbow, and may not be ready for Opening Day. Scott Feldman has been named the Reds Opening Day starter.
Those two sentences might just sum up the current state of the Queen City’s professional baseball squad five days before the opening of the 2017 season. An offseason that was mostly one of optimism has begun to sink in the opposite direction as the final week of spring training winds down.
Where did the optimism of a rebuild with a group of young, exciting players go? Well, there still will be some young, exciting players, they just won’t be anywhere near the pitcher’s mound as five days before the season opener, three-fifths of the teams’ starting rotation is unknown. That should be a bit scary for Reds fans. Feldman, who was signed in the offseason and has a 71-77 career record, seems to be the Opening Day starter by default, with lefty Brandon Finnegan and his 7+ spring training ERA holding the second spot, and then? The ageless Bronson Arroyo will likely get a spot, though the team says he isn’t ready yet. He might need to get ready real fast.
Will we ever see Homer Bailey on the mound again, and will Anthony DeSclafani pitch at all in 2017? Too many questions and too many mysteries. So here are some names that may have the opportunity to crack the Reds’ starting rotation-Tim Adleman, Rookie Davis, Amir Garrett, Cody Reed, Sal Romano, Robert Stephenson, Nick Travieso. Are any of those names causing you to put your money away for playoff tickets? We have seen some of them at the big league level-Stephenson and Adleman so-so, Reed not so good, unless he can skip the first inning. Get your arm loose folks, they may need you to throw a few innings.
A few months ago it seemed as if the Reds’ “rebuild” had some merit and was moving in the right direction, but this now decimated pitching staff has fans starting at the possibility of that 100-loss season that many national pundits have predicted. Let us pray that we will all be surprised, pleasantly when their finally is a pitching staff in place, though that may be about August.
The starting nine has some issues too, beginning with the still questionable status of catcher Devin Mesoraco. Will he or won’t he play? No one in Reds Land seems to have that answer. Joey Votto is hitting at the Mendoza line in spring training, which most will say means nothing, but ask Pete Rose when a hitter needed to be sharpening his skills for Opening Day.
I already miss Brandon Phillips, but Jose Peraza will be a capable replacement (hopefully) while the trade rumors surrounding Zach Cozart continue to swirl. There are just too many uncertainties around this team this close to the season opener.
Of course, there will be enough bobbleheads and Friday night fireworks to keep the seats at Great American Ballpark full, plus a schedule that sees the Yankees, Indians, Cubs, and Red Sox with hometown favorite Andre Benintendi visiting the Queen City this summer. The hope of the Reds’ brass is that fans will overlook the team’s record and focus on coming to the ballpark for a family evening of fun. How does that grab you? Not quite the feeling we had when heading to the ol’ ballyard in the 70’s.
No matter what, baseball begins on Sunday night and that is never a bad thing. Take your fast-paced football, basketball, or hockey games, but there is something to be said about just sitting back with no clock and enjoying a few hours at the ball park. I will be there quite often, to see the Yankees, Indians, Cubs, and Red Sox, and to just enjoy talking baseball with my boy. So if you are anywhere near Section 135 next Monday, stop by and say hello, and buy me some of that new macaroni and cheese they have. What’s a ball game without food?
And for Jordan-Let’s go Mets!