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Garrett seeks answers after rough stretch

MLB.com @m_sheldon

ST. PETERSBURG -- Both Reds rookie left-hander Amir Garrett and manager Bryan Price lacked a definitive answer to the question. Sometimes this season, Garrett has been so good and been a guy hitters didn't want to see on the mound.

And often there have been nights like Tuesday, a 6-5 loss to the Rays, when Garrett was very hittable and lacked command. Why?

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Both Reds rookie left-hander Amir Garrett and manager Bryan Price lacked a definitive answer to the question. Sometimes this season, Garrett has been so good and been a guy hitters didn't want to see on the mound.

And often there have been nights like Tuesday, a 6-5 loss to the Rays, when Garrett was very hittable and lacked command. Why?

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"I'll have to get back to you on that one. I will figure it out really soon," Garrett said.

Video: CIN@TB: Amir Garrett on his rough outing vs. Rays

Lasting 3 2/3 innings, Garrett gave up six earned runs, five hits, four walks and two homers while striking out three.

"It's really hard for me to say. I wish I had an answer for that," Price said.

Before Garrett was sent to Triple-A Louisville on May 7 in an effort to limit his innings, he had a 4.25 ERA in six starts -- with five quality starts. In the six starts since his recall, he is 0-4 with a 12.49 ERA and 13 homers allowed. Cincinnati has lost all six games. His ERA is 12.15 in the last four starts since he returned from a brief disabled list stint to treat a strained right hip.

In his previous start, however, Garrett gave up two earned runs and seven hits over six innings.

"I think in this league, they don't know who you are, adjust to you and figure you out and you've got to be able to adjust again it seems," Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart said. "But it just boils down to pitch execution no matter who is out there."

Opponents had a .272 batting average and .407 slugging percentage before Garrett went down to the Minors.

"I think, for him, it's the ability to throw more than just his fastball in the zone," Barnhart said. "That's when he's really good. Tonight, he kind of struggled throwing secondary pitches in the zone. You don't get as many chases that way, no matter who is pitching."

Garrett endured a 37-pitch third inning where eight Rays batted and scored three runs. It started with walks to two of the first three batters. In the fourth, he gave up two homers -- both on fastballs -- to Jesus Sucre and Corey Dickerson.

Video: CIN@TB: Dickerson smashes a solo home run

"I thought our guys' at-bats were good against him," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We had some good swings the first time through against him, didn't have much to show for it. And then there were some adjustments made throughout the second at-bats."

At least on Tuesday, Price felt that Garrett's mechanics were off as he opened up in the stretch and didn't get behind the ball.

"It's hard to say [why he's struggling] because we don't have any history with Amir over here," Price said. "He's been one of our, if not our top, Minor League pitchers in the system. He's done everything he's needed to do in the Minor Leagues to get this opportunity to pitch up here. He's going to have to compete in the zone better than he has and have better quality and give us that opportunity to win that he was giving us earlier in the year to be a viable option in our rotation. We believe in him."

Garrett believes in himself, too.

"I'm still as confident as ever," he said. "Going into the season, I knew what I was capable of doing. I just have to do it."

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 and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Amir Garrett