Reds activate Devin Mesoraco from DL, designate Jeff Francis for assignment

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C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the Reds have activated catcher Devin Mesoraco from the 15-day disabled list and designated pitcher Jeff Francis for assignment. Nick Christiani, the 26th man added to the roster for Thursday’s double-header against the Padres, was demoted back to Triple-A Louisville.

Mesoraco went on the disabled list on April 26 with a strained left hamstring. It was a big blow for the Reds as Mesoraco started the season on fire, slashing .468/.509/.787 in his first 53 plate appearances. He made three rehab starts with Louisville, logging two singles and a home run in ten plate appearances. Mesoraco is in Friday night’s starting lineup against the Phillies. Brayan Pena, who had been catching in Mesoraco’s absence, will start at first base in place of the injured Joey Votto.

Francis was called up to pitch the second half of Thursday’s double-header. The 33-year-old lefty, now a ten-year major league veteran, allowed three runs on five hits and no walks while striking out four over four innings. Francis had been pitching well with Louisville beforehand, posting a 3.33 ERA with a 45/12 K/BB ratio in 48 2/3 innings.

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Martin Maldonado and Willson Contreras say they’re willing to pay fines rather than follow new mound visit rule

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On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.

Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.

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Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.