Spring is winding down and the batteries need recharging. The ailments of the starting pitchers have been well-documented, including Bronson Arroyo's bout with an especially virulent "Inquisition" strain of what may well be the Spanish flu. But the catchers are hurting too. Hanigan was out with a hand thing Monday and Hernandez has been shelved with pain in his throwing elbow. He's able to swing the bat without pain and is set DH in a minor league game today, so there's no talk of missing the start of the season yet. But Dusty could be forced to dial down his playing time to preserve him.
Reds.com is marketing this one as a bullpen showcase, pitting Dontrelle Willis, Matt Maloney and Sam LeCure - who will pitch behind Bailey - in a race for those last bullpen spots. Throw Jared Burton in there and that's the remaining field. While Mike Leake has done little to inspire confidence that he's ready to rejoin the rotation, all signs point to LeCure and Maloney remaining on the bullpen track and Leake on a collision course for a start against the Diamondbacks on April 9. Leake is not at all a surprising choice to be named fifth starter. But he also hasn't strung together two effective outings in a row since last summer. Control and downward movement are crucial to Leake's attack and he just doesn't seem to have either right now.
Homer Bailey is looking to stretch out some more in preparation for a start that, as a result of Arroyo's health, is due fall on Opening Night/Game Two against the Brewers. Meanwhile, Fred Lewis and Jeremy Hermida - both of whom all of a sudden may be competing against each other for a bench spot - arein the lineup today.
I'm in the mood for a masterful pitching performance. Or at least one where the pitch count is reached sometime after the 3rd inning.