JJ Hoover, Twitter trendsetter. Mandatory Credit: Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports
Last night, the Cincinnati Reds found yet another creative way to lose en route to falling four games below .500. Even more interesting was reliever JJ Hoover’s comments after serving up a walk-off (*ahem*) hit batsman against the St. Louis Cardinals, via Twitter:
It’s not often that an athlete apologizes for a poor performance, and especially not when the player is a journeyman and the bomb comes in a meaningless late-season game. This mea culpa doesn’t redeem Hoover’s smelly season — 1-10, 5.37 ERA — but it does seem to tell fans something about his self-awareness and willingness to take his lumps. It just might also make it a little tougher for us to take potshots at him and has also kept his name trending on Twitter, though in a more positive light.
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In truth, it’s hard to lay all of the fault for Hoover’s struggles at his own feet because it’s rookie manager Bryan Price who keeps running the righty out there night after night (seemingly). Price has said on numerous occasions that he knows Hoover is not pitching well but that the the third-year hurler is showing signs of improvement. Now more than ever, Price really needs to step back from Hoover and let the heat drop off a bit.
If the feeling is that Hoover needs to continue logging innings, then send him to Triple-A and bring someone else in to mop up for awhile. A decent candidate for that role is Alfredo Simon, who has tanked as a starter in the second half. The Reds aren’t going anywhere special the rest of 2014, so just about any arm will do.
The key is to remove Hoover from the situation, because he’s still young enough (27) to turn things around and have a good big league career, but these types of stretches have a way of defining pitchers. For his own sake, the Reds need to stop Hoover’s big-league bleeding and give him a chance to recover in 2015, even if that’s with another team.
Hoover’s apology was a nice gesture and salves some wounds for Reds fans, but there is plenty of blame to go around for Cincinnati’s disappointing season. JJ Hoover is hardly the team’s biggest problem.