© 2006 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
06/22/06 12:03 AM ET
Notes: Coffey finally gets a save
Reds closer had been rusty from lack of opportunities
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Reds closer Todd Coffey could have held a cardboard sign that read, "Will work for innings."
Coffey entered Wednesday without a save since June 7. And in another sign of how rough it's been for Cincinnati and its bullpen lately, that was also the last time he'd even had a save opportunity before Wednesday. The drought ended when he worked a scoreless ninth in the Reds' 6-5 comeback win over the Mets.
The Reds haven't been scoring enough to present Coffey with save opportunities. And the bullpen, which entered Wednesday with a 7.71 ERA in its last 11 games, hasn't kept games close enough once the starting pitcher exits to get the ball to Coffey in the ninth.
Lack of use and adjustments to his new role has affected Coffey's effectiveness. Despite leading all National League relievers with a 2.35 ERA, he has a 6.75 ERA over his last 10 appearances -- including allowing an eighth-inning triple and a home run in Tuesday's loss to the Mets.
The right-hander's ERA had hovered well below 1.00 this year when he was working earlier innings.
"Coffey pitched best when he was being used a lot," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "In the ninth inning, we really haven't had him out there in the so-called closer's role because he hasn't had the opportunity."
In an effort to keep Coffey sharp, Narron told the pitcher he planned to go to a more committee-like situation with his bullpen. David Weathers, Chris Hammond, Kent Mercker and Coffey will all be used in the late innings and utilized in the best possible matchups.
But there was no doubt over who was getting the ball once the Reds took the lead in the top of the ninth on Wednesday. Anything that gets the bullpen to the game's final out was fine according to Coffey, who didn't take the change as a loss of his role.
"I have confidence in everyone in the bullpen," said Coffey, who leads the staff with 33 appearances. "If Jerry wants to mix it up a little bit, it's fine by me. Bullpen pitchers, we pitch whenever the phone rings.
"I've said this from Day 1 -- whatever they want me to do, I'll do. Whether it be the seventh, sixth, fifth -- I don't care."
Continuing his injury rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Chattanooga, reliever Matt Belisle (strained lower back) started for the team and worked 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Belisle, who threw 36 pitches, gave up two hits without a walk and struck out two.
Although the bullpen could really use Belisle, there appears to be no rush to bring him back. He is slated to throw again on Friday, but could join the team in Cleveland this weekend.
"We didn't want to activate him and have him just sit around and go maybe three, four or five days without getting in," Narron said. "That's a big part of it."
Reds bench coach Bucky Dent was reminded on Wednesday morning of how much he means to Yankees fans. Dent, who was a member of championship New York teams in the 1970s and hit a very famous homer against Boston in a one-game playoff in 1978, was treated to a guided tour on the floor of the American Stock Exchange. While there, traders chanted Dent's name wherever he went, and he was asked to pose for pictures and sign several autographs.
"That was wild," Dent said. "They never forget."
They have a future:
Major League Baseball announced Wednesday that Reds top pitching prospect Homer Bailey was named to the U.S. squad for the XM Satellite Radio All-Star Futures Game in Pittsburgh on July 9. Bailey, 20, will also make his debut for Chattanooga on Thursday.
Chattanooga first baseman Joey Votto, a Canadian, will represent the organization on the World Team roster. Lookouts manager Jayhawk Owens was named as a coach for the U.S. team.
Class A Dayton outfielder Jay Bruce had three hits, including a two-run homer, in the Midwest League All-Star Game on Tuesday in Davenport, Iowa. Bruce, the Reds' 2005 first-round draft pick, was also named player of the game.
Chattanooga closer David Shafer, who has notched 22 of 22 save chances this season, was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with right biceps tendinitis.
Coming up: The Reds and Mets finish their four-game series Thursday with a 1:10 p.m. ET game. Eric Milton will pitch for Cincinnati against Pedro Martinez.