CINCINNATI -- The Reds optioned reliever J.J. Hoover to Triple-A Louisville prior to Saturday's game against Milwaukee at Great American Ball Park. Hoover began the season as the Reds' closer, but in 12 appearances, he's compiled a 14.34 ERA while allowing six home runs, falling back into a pattern of struggles reminiscent of two years ago when he lost 10 consecutive decisions and allowed 13 home runs.
"It's just struggle," said manager Bryan Price. "He's just not [at] the same velocity, the same command and, probably more importantly than any of those is it's not the same shape of the pitch and the location. That's caused him to be more vulnerable to give up multiple runs."
Right-hander Drew Hayes was recalled from Louisville for the second time this season, while the Reds also selected the contract of right-hander Steve Delabar to fill out their bullpen spots. Right-hander Jon Moscot was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 3, with inflammation in his left shoulder. That is the same shoulder Moscot had surgery on to repair a fractured scapula last June 19.
Catcher Devin Mesoraco was moved from the 15-day DL to the 60-day list to make room for Delabar on the 40-man roster.
Delabar, an American League All-Star in 2013 with Toronto, was signed on April 2 and appeared in nine games for Louisville this season, compiling a 2.19 ERA and three saves with a 1-0 record. Delabar did not allow an earned run in any of last four appearances with the Bats. He was released by Toronto on March 1 after making eight appearances for the Blue Jays in Spring Training.
Price said Delabar will be used in middle relief but has the capability to pitch in any role. The Reds don't have set roles in their bullpen. Tony Cingrani, the only left-hander on the roster, earned the first save of his career in Friday's 5-1 win against the Brewers. It was just the second save in nine save opportunities for Reds relievers this season.
"Because it's somewhat of a non-specified bullpen at this time, all of these guys are expecting to pitch at almost any point in time of the game," said Price. "For me, that's a good thing."
Hoover had the only other save, but more often than not, he's been hit and hit hard. Opposing batters have a .373/.479/.843 slash line against Hoover this season. He set a franchise record for right-handers with 23 consecutive scoreless appearances in 2013, covering 26 1/3 innings, but his effectiveness dropped dramatically in 2014. He was sent to Louisville in the middle of 2014 before getting a September call-up.
Last season, Hoover returned to the form he showed in 2012-13, holding batters to a .196/.297/.366 slash line. Hoover will be able to get regular work in Louisville with the goal of working out his issues.
"He still has the physical ability and the drive to be outstanding," said Price. "I think he'll get back here and perform at a much higher level."
Kevin Goheen is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cincinnati. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.