Shoulder is better, but Simon still slumps

Right-hander allows 8 earned runs in 2 2/3 innings after scratched start

Shoulder is better, but Simon still slumps

CINCINNATI -- It's not an enviable situation the Reds have regarding starting pitcher Alfredo Simon. His shoulder feels good again, but his results were as poor as they were when he was injured. Returning after a one-start break to rest said right shoulder, Simon was beat up in a 9-0 loss Sunday vs. the Cubs.

Simon lasted 2 2/3 innings, throwing 70 pitches and allowing eight earned runs, nine hits and one walk with three strikeouts. The big damage came via Anthony Rizzo, who slugged two-run home runs in both the first and third innings.

"Just poor execution. He didn't really have a pitch to finish anybody today," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "The good news is his arm is feeling better, but the result wasn't very good. We have to get him back to being sharp down in the strike zone and really bang in a lot of those sinkers and get some early contact on the ground to give us a chance to keep the pitch count down and keep our starters in the game."

Rizzo's two home runs

Simon already left the clubhouse before the media was given access.

In his last three games -- totaling 4 1/3 innings -- Simon has surrendered 16 earned runs. As the Reds are poised to get Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani and John Lamb back from the disabled list in the coming weeks, Simon could very well become a candidate for the bullpen if he doesn't show improvement.

Recent events have not been positive for Simon, who was signed on March 17 to a one-year, $2 million contract with the notion he could shore up the rotation with a veteran presence and have an ability to eat up innings.

• On April 13 at Wrigley Field in his second start of the season, he lasted a career-low two-thirds of an inning while throwing 49 pitches. He allowed five earned runs, four hits and three walks.

Cubs score five in the 1st

• Two days later, in a relief appearance at St. Louis, Simon gave up four runs (three earned) on three hits -- including two homers -- in one inning.

• On Monday night, the Reds learned that Simon could not start on Tuesday vs. the Rockies because of the biceps inflammation. His spot was filled by top pitching prospect Robert Stephenson.

Simon will make his next start on Saturday at Pittsburgh, Price said.

"Yes. I think his arm looked good," he noted. "The thing you can make an argument for without question is that these half-a-Spring Training for a lot of these pitchers that don't sign until early in March, certainly it's no benefit to them. I think sometimes you see the ramifications of going through some of the spells guys go through in Spring Training. They didn't get 25 Spring Training innings. He got whatever he got (11 2/3 innings)."

Velocity was not an issue for Simon on Sunday after it had dipped in the previous two outings, leaving his pitches flat. Both home run pitches to Rizzo were 94 mph, but both came up in the zone and caught too much of the plate. Other pitches were hit hard, as well.

"He made a couple of mistakes that they made us pay for," Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart said.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.