Hours before Kyle Farmer had to put on the full catcher’s gear for the first time this season for the Cincinnati Reds, someone told him he had earned his first start at the position on the hottest day of the year.
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“Is this the hottest day?” Farmer said. “I don’t want to hear it’s the hottest day. That’s not true. You’re just trying to get in my head.”
The forecast called for a high of 93 on Tuesday with a slight dip to 86 at 7:10 p.m. when the Reds played the Brewers at Great American Ball Park.
The weather won’t help Farmer, but it was far from his biggest concern. Blocking pitches was his biggest worry, though he didn’t think it would be an issue because the starter Tuesday, Tanner Roark, stays around the strike zone.
Farmer has seen action at first base, second base and third base with the Reds but hasn’t played catcher in a game since spring training. Still, he prepared in case he was needed, doing the same drills every day with catching coach J.R. House. When Tucker Barnhart went on the injured list last week with a right oblique strain, Farmer knew he would get his chance soon.
“It came pretty quick,” Farmer said, “but I slept well last night and didn’t really think about it that much, so hopefully, I’ll just go out there and it’ll be smooth. We’ve been doing the same thing over and over again just to keep me in the mix. I think the one true test will be probably later in the game around the seventh or eighth inning. I’ve never hit this year after catching. We’ll see how that goes. The legs deteriorate pretty fast.”
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Curt Casali had started the last seven games. Prior to Barnhart’s injury, Casali and Barnhart split the load.
Reds manager David Bell knew Casali would need a break and had confidence Farmer could handle the position, even though Farmer had appeared in only four games at catcher in his three-year career for a total of nine innings and had never a started a game there until Tuesday.
“(The confidence is) high,” Bell said. “That’s not to say it’s going to be perfect. He hasn’t caught all year. We’re at a point where we need him to catch. We continue to go through a stretch of the season with one guy. He needs to be in there. If anyone can make this transition, it’s Kyle. He works so hard. He’s a great athlete. He has experience. He’s really smart. It may not be perfect, but we have a lot of confidence he’s going to be able ot handle himself and work well with Tanner. We woudln’t put him out there if we didn’t have a lot of confidence. These games are so important.”
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