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Notes: Bell on safety protocols, rotation arms

@m_sheldon
July 27, 2020

CINCINNATI -- As the Reds continue to wait on Matt Davidson to recover from COVID-19 and Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel to overcome not feeling well, the club has been discussing maintaining everyone's overall well-being and making sure to stay on top of preventative measures. “Of course, it hits hard

CINCINNATI -- As the Reds continue to wait on Matt Davidson to recover from COVID-19 and Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel to overcome not feeling well, the club has been discussing maintaining everyone's overall well-being and making sure to stay on top of preventative measures.

“Of course, it hits hard when you see people sick. It’s concerning,” manager David Bell said on Monday. “We have talked about the protocols we have put in place, and I don’t think it’s realistic that anyone will be perfect with those. But our goal is to be great at them, so we’re evaluating those every day and making sure we’re doing everything we can within our control to keep everyone safe and healthy.”

As the Reds have dealt with health issues, including scratching Moustakas and Senzel on Sunday, the Marlins’ game vs. the Orioles and the Yankees vs. Phillies game were postponed due to concerns about COVID-19.

“The reality of it is we’re also playing baseball,” Bell said. “And we’re playing baseball during a time when there is a global pandemic and a highly contagious virus. That’s why it’s really important to be as great as we possibly can at controlling what we can to keep everybody healthy.”

Some Reds have done traditional high-fives or arm bumps after home runs, clearly a harder habit to break.

“It’s a little different than other work environments that people are trying to stay healthy in, just by the nature of the sport,” Bell said. “That’s not an excuse. It’s just a reality, and within that reality, we have to find ways to get better.”

The players want to do their part to stay healthy and focused on the game simultaneously.

“I don’t even want to think about it, because you know that’s negative stuff that could be in your mind and it could shut down your desire to come and compete,” Reds reliever Pedro Strop said. “It is dangerous. When we said, ‘Yes, let’s do it,’ we all knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I think we just need to stick to the process, keep fighting and keep being careful.”

Bell careful with the starting pitchers
During the Reds’ losses to the Tigers over the weekend, Bell pulled his starting pitchers when they were having good games. Luis Castillo was removed after six innings, 11 strikeouts and 91 pitches on Saturday before the bullpen blew the lead in the seventh of a 6-4 loss. On Sunday, Trevor Bauer had 13 strikeouts and 105 pitches over 6 1/3 innings when Bell went to the bullpen. Cincinnati lost, 3-2, on a C.J. Cron homer against Michael Lorenzen.

In Friday’s 7-1 win, Sonny Gray had 90 pitches after six innings. Ahead of Monday’s series opener vs. the Cubs, Bell didn’t regret how he handled the pitching staff in those games -- especially amid the unique circumstances of the 2020 season and with recent arm injuries to pitchers like Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw.

“If anything, I’ve pushed them too far, and I don’t take that lightly when I say that because these guys’ health is the most important thing to me,” Bell said. “I don’t know what any of the other teams are doing. I don’t really care, but it might be worth comparing that just to have an idea, just to help inform people if they’re wondering about that. They’re a strength, but it’s still the first time out.”

Bauer was tied for eighth in the Majors in innings pitched through the first weekend of games. Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks threw a complete game in his start on Friday vs. the Brewers, but he was the only pitcher in MLB to pitch more than seven innings.

“It’s still a great accomplishment to get a Trevor Bauer into a seventh inning from a health standpoint, and can you ask a guy to do much more than that, 105 pitches?” Bell said. “It just doesn’t seem right to me to wait for something to go bad to take him out of a game at that point.”

DeSclafani update
Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani, who is on the 10-day injured list with a mild strain of the teres major muscle in his right shoulder, has resumed throwing and is on track to miss just one start.

“He responded really quick. He recovered fast,” Bell said.

Mahle’s view
Tyler Mahle, who will start in DeSclafani’s place on Tuesday vs. the Cubs, has been one of the starters that makes use of auxiliary dugout space created in the Diamond Club seats near home plate.

“Honestly, I like watching it on the TV more than anywhere because you can see where the catcher is set up and where the pitch actually goes,” Mahle said. “I could see why I've noticed fans, if the ball's off the plate, it looks from the Diamond Club like a strike -- everything looks like a strike. I can't tell where the ball is ending up at. That's a tough place to kind of watch.”

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook.