If all goes according to plan, the Reds will have their starting catcher and fill-in closer on the roster early next week.
According to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Reds manager Bryan Price said today that catcher Devin Mesoraco is on track to be activated from the disabled list on Monday or Tuesday. The 25-year-old backstop suffered an oblique injury toward the end of spring training, but he has made it through two minor league rehab games with Double-A Pensacola without incident.
As for Broxton, he is expected to be activated on Tuesday. The veteran right-hander began the year on the disabled list following forearm surgery last August, but he struck out two over a scoreless inning last night in Double-A. Despite putting up a mediocre 4.11 ERA and 25/12 K/BB ratio over 30 2/3 innings last season when healthy, Broxton is expected to be used in the closer role until Aroldis Chapman is ready to return.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.