Hoover, Ondrusek among scuffling Reds relievers

Hoover, Ondrusek among scuffling Reds relievers

PITTSBURGH -- Reds manager Bryan Price has been working with a short-handed bullpen all season because of various injuries. When one or more of the healthy relievers are struggling and one or two more aren't available for whatever reason, it really can strap a team in the middle and late innings.

Right now, J.J. Hoover and Logan Ondrusek are among those struggling as the bullpen entered Tuesday with a Major League worst 5.77 ERA.

In seven appearances, totaling 5 1/3 innings, Hoover has a 13.50 ERA with eight earned runs, seven hits and eight walks allowed. He walked three and gave up Neil Walker's bloop RBI single to end Monday's 6-5 walk-off loss vs. the Pirates. Walks were also an issue at Spring Training when he had seven in eight innings and a 5.63 ERA.

"From a mechanics standpoint, he's not exactly where he'd like to be or where we'd like him to be. I know he's working on it," Price said on Tuesday. "He's just not behind the ball consistently. He's got a lot of misses to the glove side or away to right-handed hitters, breaking balls that are just missing off the corner, away."

Ondrusek, who did not pitch on Monday, has an 11.25 ERA in four appearances, totaling four innings He gave up three runs and four hits over two-thirds of an inning during Saturday's 8-4 loss to the Cubs.

"In the end it's those bridge guys that help you, No. 1, not have to use [Sam] LeCure or [Manny] Parra all the time, to be able to spell [Jonathan] Broxton a day he might need off from closing and guys that have done those jobs before and picked up the slack for not having Alfredo Simon in our bullpen," Price said. "The importance of those guys being able to perform is significant."

Price did not rule out finding someone else to take Hoover's or Ondrusek's roles if their struggles continue, possibly Nick Christiani. At Triple-A Louisville, Jumbo Diaz has six scoreless appearances. But for now, the manager backed the pitchers he currently has in place.

"Logan and J.J. have been very accomplished pitchers with us here the last couple of years," Price said. "We know they're certainly capable of pitching better than they have. I'm very confident they will."

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