From 2011: Francisco celebrates after hitting a game winning single in the 10th inning against the St. Louis Cardinals. (Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE)

The Utility Player: a Lefty (or two), LeCure, Looney Lines and More!


Welcome to the debut of The Utility Player, a weekly column to relive, rehash and remember…or maybe not. The purpose of this feature will actually be to cover some quick points and observations primarily about the Reds, but we’ll cover other baseball tidbits and a few other topics.

In essence, these may be topics where a full blown post might not be generated (at least by me), but deserve a bit of notice.

First up this week…

What about all this deal with Juan Francisco?

We were informed previously that Francisco was not quite healed from the aggravating calf injury he suffered last season. And there was this issue of being about 10 to 15 pounds overweight as well (that recent last part was only recently brought to everyone’s attention). Now the question may need to be asked: Is there another lefty bat if Francisco is not a full go?

Enter one Willie Harris. Not near the pop of Francisco nor even close to that of Todd Frazier. Those points cannot be argued, but if you look at the other “contenders” for a spot on the 25-man, there isn’t a lefty bat among them.

Francisco was in yesterday’s starting lineup…as the DH.

Why, oh why can’t Aroldis Chapman stay on the course to be a starter? With today’s news of Bill Bray‘s groin not progressing, Chapman will be moved back to the ‘pen. At least that’s what Hal McCoy says.

If there is one word in the English I am not a fan of, it’s the word “hate”. I prefer to use something like despise even though that may sound a little more on the harsh side. That being said, I hate this move. No wonder there’s always chatter about what Chapman’s role is within the organization. A role cannot be held to for a long enough period.

Reds fans may never know the true brilliance of Chapman since he’s been flopped again. When the Reds signed him to that six year, $30+ million deal, it was under the pretense of being a starter. Tha lasted about a half a season. The last season and a half, he’s been in the ‘pen. After the end of 2011, word was that the Cuban Missile would be groomed to be a starter.

And now this.

I can’t recall where I saw this, but I remember seeing a video on TV and the subject was Sam LeCure. NOw we all know that LeCure is currently the owner of the “long reliever” position within the pitching staff. There was a line along the lines of that LeCure’s spot is a bit contentious as other pitchers could have that roster spot in their sights. I suppose it’s due the “last pitching spot available” on the staff.

Hogwash. In some aspects, the 2011 season showed LeCure to be the Reds most valuable arm. He pulled four starts, averaging a little over 5 innings per outing. He also took the ball and pitched 2 or more innings on 13 occasions. Add this to the mix. LeCure pitched 1 inning or less in 16 games. Tell me that’s not showing flexibility. Considering the previous topic, there may be some notes to be taken by a few.

Simply put, LeCure did what was asked. He prefers to be a starter since that’s the role he has usually held, but hand him the ball, no matter the time.

This is a peculiar pitching line: 4.2 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO, 75 pitches.

What? A no-hitter through 4.2 innings, but 75 pitches. There was one little thing I left out of this: 6 HBP! In a Tuesday game between TCU and Baylor, there was a record of most hit batters in one game: 13, 10 of those by TCU pitchers. The 10 plucked tied a record for most HBP by one team. There were also more HBP (13) than hits (12).

Go here to check out the boxscore.

FWIW: I’m not the biggest fan of hoops, pro or college. Sure, I have my “teams” that I root for, but I don’t pay a lot of attention to it even during March Madness or the NBA Playoffs.

I will watch a lot of the Big Ten Tournament. Why? Gus Johnson…rise and fire.

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Tags: Aroldis Chapman Baseball Bill Bray Cincinnati Reds Juan Francisco MLB Sam LeCure Willie Harris