GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Alfredo Simon's start in the Reds' 9-6 loss to the Cubs on Tuesday didn't have to come with a qualifier that it was good for a late-March debut. It would be considered sharp under any circumstances.
In three innings, Simon retired all nine batters he faced with four strikeouts while facing what will mostly be the Cubs' regular lineup this season. The free agent was without a job until he signed a one-year, $2 million contract with Cincinnati on Thursday.
In the second inning, Simon broke out his eephus pitch -- and like his other pitches, it showed no rust. Kris Bryant -- last season's National League Rookie of the Year -- took a big cut and missed the offspeed offering for a strikeout. Next batter Kyle Schwarber whiffed on a similar slow pitch for strike two and then fanned on a fastball for strike three and the third out.
"You guys know me already," Simon said. "I throw one at slow speed, and after that try to throw a two-seam [fastball] down and away. I figured I would try to do it like I did today."
Reds manager Bryan Price planned on having Simon throw at least two innings and possibly start a third inning. But things went so smoothly and quickly that Simon needed to throw an additional 15 pitches on the side to get to his desired pitch count after he threw 29 pitches in the game.
"That was about as sharp as I've seen him," Price said. "[Catcher] Devin [Mesoraco] was saying, 'Why don't we just ship him to Cincinnati? He's ready.'"
Simon pitched for the Reds from 2012-14 before being traded to the Tigers before the '15 season for Eugenio Suarez and a Minor League pitcher. Set to turn 35 on May 8, he was added to provide a veteran presence, some durability and eat innings in what will be a young Reds rotation.
"That's pretty efficient work right there," Price said of Simon's day. "He dropped the eephus in there. He was really sharp with his sinker, slider and curveball. He just looked really sharp. The good thing was he got three full innings in, a limited pitch count."