One of the reasons the Cincinnati Reds hired Bryan Price to be their manager, probably, was his even temperament. The Major League Baseball season is long and repetitive, and not getting too high or too down about small-sample outcomes is essential in staying the course over 162 games and beyond. However, sometimes even handsomely paid and typically motivated ballplayers need a kick in the pants when they let down.
The Reds needed a series of kicks Monday following a dismal performance in a 7-1 loss against the Cleveland Indians, Cincy's 12th loss in 17 games since the All-Star break and 10th straight at Progressive Field since 2010. Price — using the word "unacceptable" three times in a postgame interview — volunteered to use both of his legs to remind the players to act like professionals. The Reds are 56-56 and have been ravaged by injuries to key players, but that's hardly an excuse for not trying and not paying attention, as Price accused them of doing collectively.
"What was disappointing and unacceptable tonight was that we didn't have our head in the game at all, especially in the first five innings," Price said afterward. "We had two guys who didn't remember how many outs there were, we had a pitcher that didn't cover first base on a ground ball to the right side. We had five base runners in the first three innings, and with that three-run homer, it seemed like the game was over.
"We did rally a bit and come to life a bit in the last couple of innings offensively and with a little bit of energy in the dugout, but it was unacceptable. We haven't done that much this year, but what happened tonight was unacceptable from an effort and mental perspective, it's not the way we play, it's not the way we'll play again. But we need a lot better than that."
Price didn't name names, though he mentioned an obvious bone of contention when right-hander Alfredo Simon didn't cover first base in the bottom of the first on a grounder by Michael Brantley. Simon's forgetfulness forced Brayan Peña to make the play himself, which put him and Brantley in danger of getting seriously hurt.
The Reds rank 11th in the majors with a $112 million payroll, but even if they were dead last that's no reason to put the manager in a position to make those kind of comments.
Price says it won't happen again, so he's putting some of his reputation on the line for the Reds. Will they back him up?
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