Price not fond of using situational relievers

Price not fond of using situational relievers

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- From his plan to use more defensive shifts this season to having his hitters trying be more aggressive on the bases than in 2013, Reds manager Bryan Price has already shown signs he will be a departure from predecessor, and former boss, Dusty Baker.

Another difference could be noticed in how Price uses his bullpen. When asked if a lefty reliever like Manny Parra would be expected to face both left-handed and right-handed hitters, Price voiced his dislike for using pitchers for one-batter situations.

"I don't like situational-matchup relief pitchers because they beat up your bullpen," Price said Friday. "I'd much prefer to have guys that get lefties and righties out. You're going to get some criticism when they don't do the job, but you don't go out and get Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton so they can come in and get one left-handed or right-handed hitter out. I just feel very strongly about that."

Managers like Hall of Famer Tony La Russa have long been proponents of executing multiple pitching changes in one inning and having a left-hander enter to face a lefty hitter and depart.

Price stopped short of saying he would never match up in situations.

"It's still three pitchers for one [inning], especially when it's a reliever for another reliever for another reliever," Price said. "And you haven't gotten to your closer yet, so you've just guaranteed yourself four guys just got into the game, four guys got up in the bullpen, aired it out, came in, got loose, threw, got one hitter out or didn't, and came out of the game. And you want him to do it the next day and then maybe the next day.

"There are managers that have had great success doing that, matching up. I understand that, but for me, for the longevity of the reliever and the success over the course of a full season's play, as a pitching coach, I've never liked it."

Unlike many managers, Price brings the perspective of being a former Minor League pitcher and longtime pitching coach. In the game currently, only the Red Sox's John Farrell and the Padres' Bud Black are former pitchers and pitching coaches.

"I don't know what it's like to be an everyday player professionally -- Major Leaguer, Minor Leaguer or anywhere else. But I do understand what's like to be a pitcher and what these guys go through," Price said. "On the days that they don't pitch, [it's] 'Is so-and-so available? Well, we got him hot three times yesterday and he pitched the two games before.' It wasn't really a day off. As a manager and as a position player, you may see that a guy got loose -- they see it as a day off. It's not a day off. The guy just pitched back-to-back days for you and you get him up that third day and he doesn't get in, it's not the same as a day off. It's completely different. If you don't respect that, then you end up really overutilizing them."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.