Ask Hal: Reds being cautious with Greene, Lodolo

Reds pitcher Hunter Greene throws on Feb. 18, 2021, at spring training in Goodyear, Ariz. Photo courtesy of Cincinnati Reds
Reds pitcher Hunter Greene throws on Feb. 18, 2021, at spring training in Goodyear, Ariz. Photo courtesy of Cincinnati Reds

Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy knows a thing or two about our nation’s pastime. Tap into that knowledge by sending an email to halmccoy1@hotmail.com.

Q: Do the aging Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson create high hopes for veteran major league players? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: Ask Albert Pujols, Rich Hill or Nelson Cruz, all over 40 and still productive. Remember Minnie Minoso, Jamie Moyer and Nolan Ryan? How about Pete Rose? Maybe some of those guys inspired Mickelson? He is a big baseball fan and once worked out with the Twins.

Q: With the Reds in need of starting pitching, why are they afraid to bring up Hunter Greene? — PENNIE, Springfield.

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A: It is not a matter of being afraid. It is a matter of being cautious and a matter of not starting his clock toward arbitration and free agency too soon. Yes, he and Nick Lodolo are tearing up Class AA. But it is Class AA. Let’s see what Greene (and don’t you like Lodolo?) do at Triple-A when they get promoted to that level.

Dayton Dragons starter Nick Lodolo allowed one run on three hits with four strikeouts in four innings of work in a 6-1 victory over the Bowling Green Hot Rods on Tuesday night at Fifth Third Field. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER
Dayton Dragons starter Nick Lodolo allowed one run on three hits with four strikeouts in four innings of work in a 6-1 victory over the Bowling Green Hot Rods on Tuesday night at Fifth Third Field. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

Q: Whatever happened to Homer Bailey and Mike Leake because it seemed they were still effective pitchers? — ARLEY, Middletown.

A: Homer Bailey was released the last week of last season by the Minnesota Twins and was not signed by any team for this season. But you have not seen the last of him. The former Reds pitcher with two no-hitters is on the Team USA roster, a team trying to qualify for the Olympic games. Also on that roster are former Reds Todd Frazier and Matt Kemp. Kemp played 43 games for Colorado last season and remains an unsigned free agent. Frazier was released this season by both the Mets and Pirates. Mike Leake finished the 2019 season with Arizona and remains an unsigned free agent.

Q: You have always been a Dave Concepcion fan, but when it comes to most underrated and overlooked Reds player, it has to be Cesar Geronimo, a great defensive player with a great arm and batted around .300, right? — BILL, Bellbrook.

A: Does being a fan of Dave Concepcion make me a bad guy? Concepcion always took an undeserved back seat to Larry Bowa and Ozzie Smith. Geronimo was, indeed, a good player and fully recognized for his defense. His arm was good, but not as good as Ellis Valentine or Dave Parker. And in 15 years his career average was .258 (he hit .300 once), with 51 homers and 392 RBI. He was appreciated for his defense. Offense? Not so much.

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Q: What do you think of the Tony La Russa-Yermin Mercedes controversy? — TRINA, Sarasota, Fla.

A: It was Old School Tony being old school, one of baseball’s foggy unwritten rules. One of them is that you don’t swing at a 3-and-0 pitch with a 15-4 lead. The White Sox led the Twins, 15-4, and position player Willians Astudillo was on the mound. On a 3-and-0 delivery, actually pretty much a lob, Mercedes hit it to the other side of the moon. It wasn’t so much that Mercedes hit the home run, but what rankled La Russa was that he gave Mercedes the take sign, but Mercedes swung anyway. To me, it was OK for Mercedes to swing. If the Twins don’t want that to happen, use a real pitcher and not a position player. But I’m with La Russa if he gave the take sign and Mercedes swung. That’s insubordination.

Q: Any chance we will see a salary cap in MLB in our grandchildrens’ lifetime? — BOB, Washington Twp.

A: As long as there is a players’ union, and there will be, there will be no salary caps in my great grandchildrens’ lifetime. It is sorely needed because baseball is so unbalanced, favoring the rich. But the union wants its players making more money than Bolivia’s gross national product and squashes all attempts at a salary cap. Why can’t they see what’s good for the game?

Q: After playing several years in Japan, are there a lot of differences and adjustments Shogo Akiyama had to make to play for the Reds? — JR, Oxford.

A: It would be like me or you taking jobs in Japan. Of course, there are huge adjustments. There is the language. There is the massively different cultures. Players say Shogo is having a difficult time understanding sarcasm jokes/pranks. And the game is so much different. Japanese baseball is more contact with less power and fewer strikeouts. Just watch Shogo’s level, sweep swing. The adjustments are difficult.

Q: Has anybody ever won the Toyota truck and how far is the sign? — FORREST, Clayton.

A: It is 67 miles from my house to that sign. It is only 430 feet from home plate in Great American Ball Park, but it might as well be 67 miles. For a fan to win the truck, a Reds player must hit the sign. Several Reds this year have hit homers farther than 430 feet. Tyler Naquin has done it three times. And Jesse Winker hit one above the sign. The difficult part is hitting that long, narrow sign. A fan can win the truck, too, if a Reds’ player actually drives a ball through the windshield of the truck, perched on a pedestal 512 feet from home plate. Since 2008, no fan has won the truck. It is donated to police and fire departments after the season.

Q: Of all the former Reds on other teams, which would you like to see back on the Reds? — GREG, Beavercreek.

A: How about Trevor Bauer and the four former Reds in the Giants rotation — Johnny Cueto, Kevin Gausman, Anthony DeSclafani and Alex Wood? What a rotation, eh? And how about shortstops Jose Iglesias or Didi Gregorius, third baseman Justin Turner and closer Aroldis Chapman.