Cincinnati Reds starter Tony Cingrani wipes his face after Chicago Cubs' Mike Olt hit a solo home run during the second inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Saturday, April 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
CINCINNATI — If there is any place a major league baseball pitcher doesn’t want to be, other than in jail or in Antarctica without a fur-lined coat, it is on the disabled list.
That’s where Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Tony Cingrani finds himself for at least the next 15 days. And he doesn’t like it one little bit.
Even his manager, Bryan Price, said Cingrani could pitch, his left shoulder tendonitis isn’t that bad, "But we want 100 per cent of Tony Cingrani, not 60 or 70 per cent."
And the timing is perfect, if there is ever a perfect time to lose one of your starting pitchers. The Reds have three scheduled off days over the next 16 days, meaning they can operate with a four-man rotation until a fifth starter is needed May 17 in Philadelphia. By that time they believe Cingrani should be back at full strength.
Cingrani pitched Wednesday night against the Cubs and left after four innings and 79 pitches, giving up three runs and six hits. And he left kicking and screaming, wanted to stay in.
"We began investigating after last night’s game when we noticed his velocity was dropping down," said Price. "He hasn’t been real acute with his command and his delivery has wavered a bit. After investigation we discovered he was having a little bit of discomfort in his left shoulder.
"It’s mild shoulder tendonitis and doesn’t seem like it is a big issue, but with multiple off days coming up we can avoid him until the middle of the month and that’s what we plan to do," Price added. "We’ll get that soreness out of there and have him back by the middle of the month."
Cingrani accepts it, but doesn’t have to like it.
"I’m fine right now," he said. "It’s just a little tendonitis. I’d keep throwing, but it’s their call. When you pitch you deal with a lot of arm issues, certain different things.
"I know why they do a lot of things, but I don’t agree with this one," added the 6-4, 215-pound left hander. "They want to do this because they don’t want me to injure myself, so I understand. But I think I can keep throwing and be fine. They’re exercising caution."
It’s just a little tendonitis. I’d keep throwing, but it’s their call. When you pitch you deal with a lot of arm issues, certain different things.
Asked how long it has been bothering him, he said quickly, "You can see what has been going on. I’m not myself and you can see that every time I go out there. I’m trying to fix things."
Asked if he would take his next turn, given a choice, he said, "Definitely. I would have kept going last night."
Cingrani pitched the second game of the season and beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 1-0, going seven shut out innings, giving up only two hits while walking two and striking out seven.
He hasn’t approached that level since and has been sliding down a slippery slope, particularly in his last two games.
Price certainly isn’t pleased by Cingrani’s absence, but there is an upside. If the Reds had stayed on a five-man rotation, with the off days, everybody would be pitching a couple of times on five days of rest instead of four. That isn’t always good, especially this early in the season when pitchers are still strong.
"Don’t get me wrong with this because there is not a benefit in losing Tony, but the problem with the schedule and the off days it can get your starters pitching only once a week," said Price. "As much as rest is nice periodically, these guys are very routine-oriented. Pitching every sixth or seventh day isn’t a huge benefit in the big picture.
"If this was going to happen this is about the right time for it. It is not good thing but the timing for something like this to happen couldn’t be better," Price added.
Price said Cingrani insists it hasn’t impaired his pitching but he is aware that he hasn’t felt like 100 per cent like he did against the Cardinals," said Prie. "Yes, he can still pitch with it. But we don’te want 60 or 70 per cent if we can have 100 per cent."