Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 7/3/13
CINCINNATI This season hasnt been an easy one for Ryan Hanigan. The Reds catcher came out of spring training banged up and then hit the disabled list before the first month was completed because of a strained oblique muscle. A sore left leg kept him out of the lineup for nearly a week until getting the start Monday, and his batting average, well, it hasnt seen the north side of .200 for a long time. Its been a battle but its easy not to feel pain when youre having a night like tonight, said Hanigan on Tuesday night after catching Homer Baileys second no-hitter in nine months. Bailey faced just one batter over the minimum as the Reds beat the San Francisco Giants 3-0 at Great American Ball Park. Only a leadoff walk to Gregor Blanco on a 3-2 pitch in the seventh inning kept him from pitching the second perfect game in Cincinnati franchise history. These are the kinds of games that are expected out of players drafted in the first round, as Bailey was by the Reds in 2004 as a Texas high school senior. Not far behind the scenes, or the plate in this case, is a guy like Hanigan. He was never drafted. The Reds signed him as a free agent in 2002 after seeing him play in the Cape Cod League. Hanigan climbed the minor league ranks and has been in the Major Leagues since an August 2008 call-up. For a pitching staff that, aside from Bronson Arroyo, doesnt have a starter over the age of 27, Hanigan is an invaluable piece of the puzzle. Hes the type of guy that kind of cultivates these relationships with the starting pitchers and you find that these guys really like to throw to him, said pitching coach Bryan Price. They have the ability to get on the same page. They know that hes working for them on their behalf. From what he accomplished last year with his catchers ERA, his stolen base percentage, hes been a huge part of this ball club and the development of this staff. I think we definitely need to acknowledge that. Hanigan had a 3.04 catchers ERA in 2012, the lowest in MLB. He was third in the National League in fielding percentage among catchers and he was behind the plate for 11 of the staffs 12 shutouts and six of its nine complete games last season. After Bailey walked Blanco in the seventh, he followed with a first-pitch ball to Marco Scutaro. As dominant as Bailey had been, the game certainly wasnt out of reach of the Giants, especially with catcher Buster Posey in the on-deck circle. Hanigan jogged out to the mound. His ball starts to run, his fastball, when he doesnt get extension, and I didnt like that, said Hanigan. I wanted it to be more true. I always try to give him a little tick with my hand as a reminder, but he said 'Im all right.' I said 'I know you are, but just get some more extension.' I just wanted the ball to be truer so it didnt run middle. No rah-rah stuff here. Stick to the basics and to what was working. Bailey got Scutaro to hit into a groundout to third baseman Todd Frazier. Blanco was erased on a fielders choice play while trying to advance to third when Posey grounded to Joey Votto at first base. Bailey struck out Pablo Sandoval swinging to end San Franciscos lone scoring threat of the game. Its my job to keep him in check, said Hanigan. I get excited but I was really concentrating on his demeanor. Sometimes hed step off the mound for too long, and I didnt like that, or sometimes hed hold on to the rosin bag and look up, and I didnt like that, so I wanted to make sure he was just on the hill, not thinking, and attacking. I was just trying to keep him in check pretty much. Bailey threw his first no-hitter last September 28 at Pittsburgh, beating the Pirates 1-0 on a night in which he walked just one and struck out 10. Hanigan was behind the plate for that game, too. The two have been playing together since 2006 at Chattanooga in the Double-A Carolina League. While Baileys ascension to the big league club was expected and constantly monitored, Hanigans was quiet. Theyve arrived in the same place. (Hanigan) does his homework, does his diligence and pretty much whatever he puts down I feel pretty comfortable with, said Bailey. There are a lot of times well go through a sequence of pitches and hes calling something and I already have the grip for it before he even puts it down. I know what hes going to do. You kind of know what hes doing. You go with the scouting reports, you have an understanding of what were trying to do and that just makes the game flow faster.
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