Cincinnati Reds prepping relievers for different roles

Reds manager Bryan Price throws batting practice on Friday, April 14, 2017, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff
Caption
Reds manager Bryan Price throws batting practice on Friday, April 14, 2017, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

Bryan Price says it’s all hands on deck for bullpen

Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price hasn’t heard from many fellow managers about his unorthodox bullpen use. Managers don’t talk much during the season, Price said Friday.

Price is good friends with Oakland A’s manager Bob Melvin. Their contact stops during the season and resumes when it ends. That’s the baseball life.

If the success of the Reds bullpen continues, however, Price will hear praise from near and far. The second-worst bullpen in baseball in 2016 is the second best in 2017 — through 10 games, at least. The group’s ERA stood at 1.13 after a 5-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday at Great American Ball Park.

Price showed a willingness to experiment when he brought Michael Lorenzen out of the bullpen Monday to replace Brandon Finnegan with the bases loaded and no outs in the third inning against the Pirates. Lorenzen got three straight outs to end the inning. It was a key moment in a 7-1 victory.

Price called that a breakout moment.

“I don’t think with this group you have to send a message,” Price said, “but that sent a message to everybody in our bullpen that it’s all hands on deck all the time. We’re not going to bring in (Raisel) Iglesias in the first inning with two runs in and three guys on, but he could come in earlier. What we like to do is give them a heads up. The difference is Michael got some advance warning he might be in that game early.”

MORE

Winker: ‘New wave is coming’

Brewers slow Reds' momentum

Reds aiming for milestone

Price plans to balance bullpen flexibility with making sure his relievers have a chance to get ready. He doesn’t want to catch them off guard because he knows they have routines.

“We’re prepping these guys to handle different parts of the game,” Price said. “That was set in motion with Lorenzen coming in and throwing three beautiful innings in Pittsburgh. It reminds the guys down there we will use them when we need them.”

Sunday's starter: Sal Romano will start for the Reds at 1:10 p.m. Sunday in the series finale against the Brewers. Romano, 23, is 0-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts for Triple-A Louisville. He was a 23rd-round pick in 2011.

Romano will be the third rookie starting pitcher to make his big-league debut for the Reds this season, following Rookie Davis and Amir Garrett. Davis is on the 10-day disabled list after being hit by a pitch Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

“It’s an opportunity (for Romano),” Price said. “It might be a short stay. A lot of it will depend on how Rookie bounces back from being hit by that pitch. If Rookie’s ready to go, I think Rookie will start on the 22nd.”

Roster move: The Reds promoted outfielder Jesse Winker, the organization's sixth-ranked prospect, from Triple-A Louisville on Friday and optioned reliever Barrett Astin to Louisville.

With Davis on the disabled list, Price wanted to go from a nine-man bullpen to an eight-man bullpen and add a position player to the bench.

“It gives us another left-handed option,” Price said. “It gives Jesse some experience here. It may not be a real long stay.”