C. Notes: The Cincinnati Reds’ numbers crisis, and more on that (almost) no-hitter

In the past, just about any uniform number above 55 was described as a “spring training number”. When Ross Detwiler took the mound Saturday at PNC Park, he wore number 75, the ninth different number he’s worn in his 14-year major league career, and the highest.

The Reds, and a few other teams, are simply running out of numbers.

If you want to piss off Reds clubhouse manager Rick Stowe, just ask him to remove a number. Some sportswriters may or may not like to do this from time to time. When they do (or don’t), Stowe will begin his usual rant about pulling writers’ letters to use them and see how we like it.

The Reds retired 10 team numbers and Major League Baseball retired number 42 for all baseball. It’s limited to the number of, well, numbers that Stowe can distribute.

Detwiler was the 43rd different player to feature in a game for the Reds this year. That’s a lot of uniforms, especially considering the team record for most players used in a season is 57 in 2003. That was over 162 games, this year’s Reds have used 43 in 34 games. That also doesn’t include Mike Minor, Donovan Solano, Jose Barrero or Max Schrock, all of whom have been injured since spring training. These four are expected to be back with the team at some point and pitcher Justin Dunn could also return this season.

It’s not as simple as replacing a player when he’s sent off. Stowe already has thousands of dollars worth of uniform jerseys from, say, Aristides Aquino’s 44s. Although Aquino was slated for an assignment, he accepted his assignment and is still with the organization. If he were to be recalled, the jerseys would already be there (although it would be nice if Justin Dunn wore #44, as that was Adam Dunn’s longtime number and many fans would still have a Dunn 44 jersey that they might use again.)

There are other numbers that were given to veterans in spring training, some of whom didn’t make the team but are still with the organization, like Jake Bauers (26), Zack Godley (48) and Ben Lively (49) are already claimed. Stowe had to have them ready if they got the team out of shortened spring training.

The lowest number available is 50, which belonged to Amir Garrett at the start of spring training before he was traded.

After that, there is nothing until 67.

Adding to the team’s lack of numbers, there are 14 uniformed coaches, all with their own numbers, starting with manager David Bell (25).

The reality is, however, that even with all their history, the Reds are way behind some teams when it comes to getting numbers out of circulation. The Yankees retired 23 numbers, including 42 for Robinson and Mariano Rivera. They are followed by the Cardinals at 13 and the White Sox and Giants at 11.

The Reds, at least, still have 0 and 00. Alex Blandino wore No 0 last season and the last player to wear No 00 was Brandon Watson, an outfielder who appeared in an entire game for the Reds, entering against the Brewers as a pinched runner, recording a stolen base. Pitcher Rick White wore the number earlier in the season.

So far this season, three Reds have worn numbers never seen on a Reds uniform before: Robert Dugger (76), Ronnie Dawson (82) and Jared Solomon (84). Last season Luis Cessa became the first Red to wear No. 85 and in 2020 it was José De León, who made his debut with a number for the Reds, 87 (a number he chose because her birthday is August 7). Sandy León, added to the taxi team on Sunday, received number 87.

A total of 18 numbers have never been worn by a Reds player, with number 69 being the lowest. No Reds player ever wore a number in the 90s (although three Reds coaches currently do, including first base coach Delino DeShields, who wears number 90.)

Then yes. These are the things I think about.

The remains of the no-no-hitter

As we know, Sunday’s game was not a hitless game for the Reds, but a game in which the team allowed no hits. It’s a small distinction, but it’s real.

But, because 95% of the fun of being a baseball fan is thoroughness, here are some of those split ends and such:

• There have been 17 no-hitters in Reds history, the last of which came on May 7 last season in Cleveland when Wade Miley threw a no-hitter. But none of these non-hitters were combined, all were the work of a singular pitcher. And because there are distinctions, Sunday was the first time the Reds used multiple pitchers and allowed no hits (again, no hits. Semantics is fun, isn’t it ?)

• Sunday was the third time the Reds had an ‘unofficial’ no-hitter. The other two came in seven innings, August 24, 1906 when Jake Weimer held Brooklyn without a hit in seven innings and September 23, 1883 when Icebox Chamberlain did so against Boston (also in seven innings). Both of those wins were for the Reds.

• In the modern era (since 1900), six teams have lost a game despite allowing no hits: the Angels in 2008, the Red Sox in 1992, the Yankees in 1990, the Orioles in 1967 and the Colt .45s in 1964.

The latter took place against the Reds, when knuckleballer Ken Johnson lost 1-0 to the Reds on April 23, 1964. Johnson, a former Red, had beaten Cincinnati on opening day at Crosley Field. At Colt Stadium in Houston, he had nine strikeouts and walked just two batters. Joe Nuxhall was the winning pitcher.

With one out in the ninth, Pete Rose filed a bunt. Johnson fielded it, but threw it first for an error, allowing Rose to pass to second. Chico Ruiz followed with a grounder that went off Johnson’s shin, but he was sent off, but Rose took third. Nellie Fox then erred in second on a Vada Pinson grounder, allowing Rose to score.

• According to Elias Sports Bureau, the 7.1 innings was the longest a Reds pitcher had gone in a game without allowing a hit before being called out. The previous long was seven innings, when Johnny Klippstein walked seven and allowed a run in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Milwaukee Braves on May 26, 1956.

• Greene’s no-hitter bid was the longest by a Reds rookie since Travis Wood went ninth-inning no-hitter on July 10, 2010 in Philadelphia, when he gave up a brace to Carlos Ruiz to start the round. The Reds lost that game 1-0 in 11 innings.

Joey Votto, Sorcerer Supreme

There are major league theme nights where teams will project photos of players on the video boards in Jedi robes or other half-measures. But at the minor league level, theme nights have spread from the stands to the field, with players wearing special uniforms.

Fans who came to Louisville Slugger Field on Saturday were not only treated to future Hall of Famer Joey Votto playing for the local club, they got to see him perform in a Doctor Strange jersey as part of Marvel Night.

The best part about jerseys is that teams often auction them off after the game. Votto’s Doctor Strange jersey was no different. It’s on the MiLB.com auction page. Last time I looked it was over $500. With about a week left, I expect it to go much higher.

Votto had an RBI single and two walks in that game and was 0 for 3 with a walk and two strikeouts on Sunday. He is scheduled to continue his rehab assignment in Dayton on Tuesday.

My favorite is still Star Wars Night, which is June 25 in Louisville. I bought a Darth Vader jersey a year ago. During the pandemic, I wrote about the origins of Star Wars Nights.

The week that was

The Reds won a series against the top team in the division, won more games than they lost, had the first three (!) quality starts of the season and had a game in which they allowed no hits. Man, it must have been a great week. Except all we’ll remember in the end is don’t allow a hit and lose. Weft.

The week ahead

This week will feature five straight games against American League teams the Guardians and Blue Jays. Since the start of interleague play in 1997, the Reds are 176-241 against the AL, a .422 winning percentage in interleague play that is the lowest in baseball. The Reds haven’t had a winning record against the AL since 2013.

The legendary Ohio Cup will stay in Cleveland no matter what happens this week at Progressive Field after the Guardians won both games at Great American Ball Park last month. Connor Overton, who had the team’s first quality start Thursday in Pittsburgh, starts Tuesday, followed by Tyler Mahle. The Reds skipped Vladimir Gutierrez in the rotation with Monday’s day off. The good news is that the team won’t face Shane Bieber this time around.

In Toronto, Luis Castillo, Hunter Greene and Overton will take the mound. With Votto playing two minor league rehab games and traveling to Dayton on Tuesday to continue his rehab mission, it’s possible he could return in time to play in his hometown of Toronto, in what could be his last. chance to play there with the Reds.

Injury Updates

• LHP Mike Minor (shoulder) allowed two runs, one earned, on three hits in 2.1 innings with one walk and four strikeouts at Triple-A Louisville on Sunday. He threw 60 pitches on the outing (41 strikes).

• OF Nick Senzel (injured list) expected to leave for rehab on Wednesday.

Minor League Roundup

• Louisville Triple-A Sticks (13-22): RHP Graham Ashcraft is 3-1 with a 1.65 ERA in seven starts. He’s probably the next starter to get a big league shot. Ashcraft, 24, has 30 strikeouts and 17 walks in 32.2 innings this season. Last season, he was 11-4 with a 3.00 ERA between High-A Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga. On Saturday, he allowed one run on a hit and struck out nine with two walks in five innings.

• Double A Chattanooga Lookouts (17-16): In his Double-A debut on Saturday, LHP Andrew Abbott struck out 12 batters in 5.2 innings. He allowed just three hits and didn’t walk a batter.

Abbott was 3-0 with a 0.67 ERA in four starts (and five appearances) at High-A Daytona before the promotion. During the season, he has 52 strikeouts and just seven walks in 32.2 innings.

• Dayton Dragons High-A (22-10): SS Elly De La Cruz is hitting .280/.339/.538 with five homers in 26 games for Dayton, but was even better than that in May. So far this month, he’s hitting .324/.419/.595 with two homers in 10 games. He has nine strikeouts, but also five walks this month.

On Sunday, De La Cruz had two doubles and a homer, driving three and scoring two.

• Daytona Tortugas singles A (13-20): The 18-year-old SS Braylon Minier made his full-season debut this week and made it count. In four games with the Tortugas, Minier went 4 for 14 with a double and a homer.

(Greene top photo: Jeffrey Dean/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

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