National League people like to turn their noses up at the designated hitter, preferring old-school baseball where the pitcher has to hit.
It changes during spring training and the DH is preferred because even NL managers like to give position players more chances to bat. So, for the most part, the DH is used in all exhibition games.
That wasn’t the case Saturday afternoon when the Chicago Cubs eviscerated the Cincinnati Reds, 9-0, at Goodyear Ballpark. The two National league Central Division cousins did not employ the DH.
On this day the Reds needed nine DHs because the sum total of their offense was six scattershot hits — two doubles by Joey Votto and four singles.
Reds manager Bryan Price still had his sense of humor after this one when he asked, “Do I get paid for this? It wasn’t a pretty ballgame. We weren’t sharp. It just wasn’t a good game, no redeeming pieces to it.”
Price said the reason for not using the DH was threefold: (1) to get possible rotation pitcher Alfredo Simon a look at the batter’s box; (2) to play a National League game; (3) to get Price acclimated to managing a National League game.
With Mat Latos still absent from the rotation after knee surgery and with Mike Leake only making one start so far this spring, Simon in the emergency/contingency rotation replacement.
“We have to play the National League game and Freddie (Alfredo Simon) could be in our Opening Day rotation,” said Price. “We think Leake will be back, but we haven’t seen Mat in a game and we’re on the fence as to whether he will be in the rotation to start the season.
“So we want to get Fredie some at-bats and we want to play National League-style baseball,” said Price. “It helps prepare our bench players with some pinch-hitting opportunities and gives us a chance to double-switch and do some situational stuff they don’t do in the American League game with the DH.”
Price, a first-year manager, was asked if it also would help prepare him for what’s coming during the regular season and he said, emphatically, “Yes.”
There wasn’t much managing to be done of any sytle on this day because Simon was eminently hittable, relief pitcher Logan Ondrusek needed a guide dog and GPS to find home plate and the Reds couldn’t muster an offensive challenge.
Simon, who had given up no runs and no hits in his first two starts over five innings, gave up five runs and five hits over four innings.
He walked the second batter he faced and Nate Schierholtz drove one over the right field wall for a 2-0 Cubs lead. Then he gave up two in the second and one in the third.
Ondrusek entered in the eighth inning and struck out one batter. The rest reached base (one hit, four walks) and three scored before Trevor Bell was summoned to get the final two outs.
“Ondrusek lost his release point and there are a lot of moving parts with that kid at 6-foot-8,” said Price. “His head was pulling off the target and the head is the most important part of the delivery. You have to see the target to hit it. You don’t see that often with Logan so I don’t anticipate anything like that again.”
Under the category of “so, what” or maybe “not again,” Billy Hamilton opened the bottom of the first inning with a walk, then stole second and third, giving him six steals this spring.
It seemed to unnerve pitcher Jason Hammel because he walked Votto and Jay Bruce to load the bases with one out. But Todd Frazier struck out and Devin Mesoraco popped to first base, stranding all thee runners. And somewhere in the stands somebody was heard to say, “Here we go again. Same ol’ crap.”