ST. PETERSBURG -- On a roll in his new role of middle relief, not even a stint on the disabled list has stopped Reds pitcher Sam LeCure from doing his job well.
Since moving from the rotation to the bullpen, LeCure has given up one earned run over 18 innings over his last 11 appearances, which translates to a miniscule 0.50 ERA. Of his 11 inherited runners overall, only two have scored.
"We don't want to know that," LeCure said, being superstitious.
LeCure allowed one hit over two scoreless innings, using only 22 pitches, during the Reds' 5-0 win over the Rays on Monday.
"It's going well," LeCure said. "I don't really think about it, to be honest with you. I just try to get the ball to the next guy and cover some innings where I can. If we're shorthanded in the 'pen or whatever, if I can go out there and give a couple of innings ... it gives those guys a little break so the next day we're fresh."
There lies the nature of a good middle reliever. It's a role that isn't glamorous because it often doesn't net wins or saves.
"That's one of the most unheralded jobs in baseball, but also one of the most important jobs to be that bridge guy to get you to the back end of your bullpen," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Most teams don't really have one because they save money there most of the time -- starters are getting paid handsomely and back-end guys are getting paid handsomely. It takes a real team guy to relish that role and be in the role."
LeCure was activated from the disabled list on June 22 after missing a month because of a sore right forearm. He pitched mostly well in four rehab assignment outings for Triple-A Louisville.
"It was nice to come back, it reconfirmed some confidence as far as what I'm able to do and that things didn't change however long I was gone," said LeCure, who has a 2.79 ERA overall. He had a 4.79 ERA in four starts this season.