Ask Hal: Where will Moustakas play when he returns from injured list?

Credit: David Zalubowski

Credit: David Zalubowski

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

Q: With TV replays revealing so many missed calls on balls and strikes, it is time for RoboUmpire? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: No, no, no and, please, no. First of all, that box you see on your screen is one size fits all. It does not take into account a tall player or a short player. It is still the same. It does not take into account a player who squats in a stance or stands straight up. And the great experiment with electronic umpires in the minors is a mess. There have been games where the robot umpire has missed as many as 25 balls and strikes calls, about the same number as MLB umpires Angel Hernandez, Joe West and Adrian Johnson.

Q: When and where will Mike Moustakas play? — DOUG, Winter Haven, Fla.

A: Mike who? Oh, Moustakas. Now I remember. Moustakas hasn’t played since May when he suffered planter fasciitis. Reports are he is close. Where will he play? Class AAA Louisville on rehab, of course. Then he will return to the Reds. But what position. They can’t take Jonathan India off second base. They can’t move Eugenio Suarez back to short and bench Kyle Farmer, can they? Do they have the any thoughts of benching the slump-shrouded Suarez and playing Moustakas at third, his natural position? Doubt it. The dilemma belongs to manager David Bell and let’s see how it plays out.

Q: Do the players on a list that might be involved in a player to be named later trade know that he is on that list? — STOCC, Miamisburg.

A: Ah, the most traded player in baseball history, the player to be named later. What a misnomer. All players have names. It should be a player to be identified later. And, no, the list a team offers to the other team is confidential. That’s so guys on the PTBNL list that are not picked by the other team don’t know they could have been traded. Bad for morale, y’know? There have been some solid players who were PTBNL parts of a trade — Chili Davis, Moises Alou, Scott Brosius and Jason Schmidt to name a few (and, yes, they already had names).

Q: When did MLB begin taking every ball that touches the dirt out of the game — JIM, Lakeside Park, Ky.

A: They don’t. It only seems that way. If a pitch hits the dirt, the always throw it out. If a ball is fouled near home plate, they always throw it out. But if a ground ball is hit, the first baseman throws the ball to the pitcher and he uses it unless he asks for a new ball. I’ve often wondered the same thing and have asked several umpires. I never get a definitive answer. It seems a terrible waste when they go through seven dozen balls a game. High school games survive on about three balls a game. But, of course, foul balls have to be returned, even if they take five bounces on a hot tar parking lot.

Q: When a major league player shows up for minor league rehab assignment, does one of the minor league players get sent down to a lower league because of roster limitations? — GREG, Beavercreek.

A: No, they don’t treat their player that badly. A rehabbing major league player does not count on the roster. And he is only there one or two days. The minor leaguers love it because the major leaguer usually springs for a nice catered post-game meal for them so they don’t have to eat those stale ham and cheese sandwiches.

Q: Is it time to give the phrase, the Mendoza Line, a modern reference and call it the Suarez Line? — JR, Oxford.

A: Now that’s a big harsh. The Mendoza Line is named after former Pittsburgh infielder Mario Mendoza and refers to any player hitting under .200. Mendoza played in the majors nine years and had a .215 career average. But he hit under .200 four times. Yes, Suarez is hitting .174 this year and hit .202 last year. But he does have 19 homers this year and hit 15 in last season’s truncated 60-game season. Mendoza? He hit four home runs total during his nine-year career.

Q: After watching so many major league players strike out, I wonder if they get regular eye exams and if they do why isn’t Eugenio Suarez wearing glasses? — SHARON, Tipp City.

A: Yes, they do get eye exams and it begins in spring training before the first workout. When the Reds trained in Sarasotea, they used the media work room to check eyes and I remember watching Ken Griffey Jr. read the bottom line on the chart. There are a few players who wear glasses, mostly pitchers, but most wear contacts of their eyes need help. I don’t know if Suarez wears contacts, but I do know he blows the biggest bubbles in baseball with his bubblegum while he bats and while he stands in the field.

Q: Do pitchers throw more pitches per batter than they did back in the day when they threw more complete games? — WILLIAM, Carlisle.

A: It only seems that way. It is about the same. But with 100 pitches the magic number, starting pitchers throw harder and exert more energy, preserve nothing, because they know once they reach 100 pitches they are about to be lifted. A complete game is a mirage. And knowing it does no good to preserve anything, they are more likely to throw pitches out of the zone on 0-and-2 and 1-and-2, hoping the hitters will chase bad pitches. That’s what makes it seem like more pitches are thrown per batter.

Q: Did you ever play Wiffle Ball, because this man-on-second garbage in extra inning games reminds me of the invisible man on second during our Wiffle Ball games? — BOB, Washington, Twp.

A: Yes, I played Wiffle Ball in my back yard and was frustrated trying to hit the softball-sized plastic ball that danced like a butterfly with a skinny yellow bat. We never imagined a runner on base. We played home run derby with a Whiffle ball and the fence was only 20 feet away. I still couldn’t hit a home run. And if you put a ghost runner on second during Wiffle Ball, you were ahead of times. Hey, maybe Rob Manfred played Wiffle Ball.

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