As the Reds have two weeks left in their season, Devin Mesoraco is one of the hitters who appears poised to finish up very strong. Mesoraco, who was in a 1-for-32 funk recently entered Sunday hitting .349 (15-for-43) with three home runs and 11 RBIs.
Overall, Mesoraco has 23 homers and 22 as a catcher. One more homer and he has the most homers for a Reds catcher since Johnny Bench hit 23 from that position in 1980. Remarkably, Mesoraco has had a strong season while seeming to fly under the radar among the top hitting catchers of the league.
In 105 games, Mesoraco is batting .282/.369/.545 with 23 homers and 74 RBIs — and had two stints on the DL. He has a .914 OPS and a .155 OPS+ (a stat that is adjusted for different ballparks). His WAR is 4.8.
“I can tell you we appreciate his numbers and the way he’s grown into being a really strong offensive performer this season,” Reds manager Bryan Price said on Sunday. “I don’t know if the national baseball conglomeration fully appreciates Devin Mesoraco yet. I would hope the appearance in the All-Star game brought some positive attention to him.”
*Meanwhile, 2B Brandon Phillips seems to have turned the corner following an initially poor offensive return from the DL, after he missed 31 games with a torn thumb ligament repaired by surgery.
Phillips, who at one point was 0-for-20 and 2-for-27, is batting .321 (9-for-28) in his last nine games. On Saturday, he drew a walk with the bases loaded and hit an eighth inning single. Overall, it’s been a down year for Phillips, who is batting .260/.303/.364 with seven homers and 48 RBIs.
“We saw that taking six weeks off and going to face Major League competition coming off a hand surgery wasn’t as easy to return from as we thought it might be, or hoped that it might be,” Price said. “He looks normal. I didn’t think he looked terrible when he came back but his timing had to have been affected.”
The Reds’ Todd Frazier became a 20 homer-20 stolen base man when he swiped second base in Friday’s loss to the Pirates.
While there have been instances of the Reds being burned by their more aggressive ways on the bases this season, this is one of the successes this season.
“I think he’s established that he can do that,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “That’s kind of what we’ve been looking for with our group – to find more ways to exploit the strengths of our players. Todd is not a burner.”
Besides Billy Hamilton, who came in with 55 steals, the list of Reds stolen bases is interesting.
Frazier – 20-for-27
Bruce – 12-for-14
Heisey – 9-for-11
Cozart – 7-for-7
“That is in large part is combining instincts with opportunity,” Price said. “If they weren’t good instinctive players on the bases, they would be less likely to be given the opportunity to steal bases.”
*The Reds have made no formal decision for Wednesday’s starter at Chicago, but Daniel Corcino is listed on the game notes. It’s not a lock that Mat Latos (bone bruise in right elbow) won’t pitch, but it’s sure seemed less likely.
“We’re obviously not going to force this, force feed Mat his last few starts if he’s not feeling good,” Price said. “It doesn’t make much sense for us. I’d like him to pitch but I don’t want to exacerbate a pre-existing issue. He’ll have to come quite a ways in order to make that next start.”
Brayan Pena, who was scratched with an illness from catching for Johnny Cueto on Thursday, was in the lineup on Friday. Pena was paired to catch for rookie Daniel Corcino, who is making a spot start for the injured Mat Latos. Regular catcher Devin Mesoraco, who replaced Pena on Thursday, got a night off.
“Pena was going to catch Cueto yesterday and he was sick and unable to make that start,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “I like to give Devin a breather every now and again. In this case with the language connection, even though Daniel is bilingual, it also plays well in giving Devin a day off here. He’ll still be catching regularly after today.”
The Reds will be seeing younger pitchers on the mound for the first two games against the Brewers — Corcino and David Holmberg on Saturday.
“This isn’t where we anticipated being at the end of the year but it is a chance for us to see some of our young prospects and be able to evaluate a bit for a next year,” Price said.
Daniel Corcino will start for the Reds tonight instead of Mat Latos, who has a bone bruise in his right elbow.
It is not known how Latos suffered the injury. We should learn more when the clubhouse opens soon.
IF/OF Skip Schumaker had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
Schumaker originally dislocated the left shoulder trying to make a diving catch on March 21 during Spring Training. On July 10 vs. the Cubs, he injured the same shoulder in a collision with the right field wall trying to make a catch. That incident also left him with a concussion.
Of course, Johnny Cueto’s latest masterpiece of pitching for eight innings will stand out the most from a 1-0 win over the Cardinals on Thursday for the four-game series win. But there was some help behind Cueto.
Two plays especially stood out:
To end the third inning with Matt Holliday batting, 1B Todd Frazier robbed him of a hit with a diving stop on the grass at the line. Frazier threw to Cueto covering first for the out, just in time.
To begin the seventh, Jay Bruce made the play of the day with a leaping catch at the wall to take a home run away from Matt Adams.
“Great defensive game,” Reds manager Bryan Price said.
Here is the Bruce play:
“He hit it well enough for it to squeak over but not well enough for it to get it far enough up,” Bruce said. “I was just able to time it up and get back there quickly enough and make the play.”
It’s the second time this season Bruce has robbed someone of a homer. He did it to Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton on GABP on Aug. 10.
“I’m just out there trying to do my job,” Bruce said.
From the contact off of Adams’ bat, Bruce felt like he had a play he could make.
“You’ve got to try and get back there as fast as you can and find the way in the process,” Bruce said. “I try to use my feet to feel the warning track. Playing baseball so much, you learn that kind of stuff.
“I knew it was going to be close. I didn’t know if it would be just out of reach. You don’t want to assume it’s gone and get back there and it hits the wall. You always want to assume you’re going to have a play on it.”
The Reds received Minor League right-handed pitchers Kevin Shackelford and Barrett Astin on Wednesday to complete the Jonathan Broxton trade from Aug. 31.
Shackelford, 25, split the 2014 season with Class A Brevard and Double-A Huntsville. After he had a 0.87 ERA in 12 games at Brevard, he was 2-4 with a 4.86 ERA in 40 relief appearances.
Once a catcher for Marshall University, Shackelford was a 21st round Draft pick of Milwaukee in 2010 and was promptly converted to a pitcher.
In 27 games – including 18 starts — for Class A Wisconsin, Astin was 8-7 with a 4.96 ERA and four saves. Over 121 2/3 innings, he allowed 132 hits, 36 walks and 12 home runs while striking 81 batters.
Astin, 22, was a third-round Draft pick in 2013 out of the Univ. of Arkansas.
In a little while on Reds.com/MLB.com, I will have the latest update on injured Reds 1B Joey Votto, who has been on the disabled list since July 8 with a distal strain of his left quadriceps.
There has been progress, manager Bryan Price said on Wednesday. But Price also noted there is a long way to go baseball-wise, before setting a timetable — or even thinking about a timetable, to get Votto activated again this season. The club is still trying to get him on the field — this season.
“His commitment to playing and our commitment to wanting to play is important. It deserves every attempt,” Price said. “If we said hey ‘you can play in a week and play the last several days of the season,’ that might be something we deem worthy as a stepping stone into 2015. To get him ready to have a single commemorative at-bat in the last game of the season isn’t really the goal.”
My opinion: There are 16 games left after today. Votto has little to gain from coming back this season and in a way, more to lose. Let’s say he can play the final week of the season and he hits the cover off the ball — many fans would probably say “it’s too little, too late,” or “why couldn’t he have come back when the season was still meaningful?” If he comes back and performs terribly, it only leaves a bad taste to end the season and leaves no optimism for next season. He also risks re-injury, even if he appeared to be 100 percent. Many non-contending clubs, at this point, would not attempt to bring back a star player from an injury this late in a season.
There could be other motivations at play, like giving fans another reason to come to the ballpark or just something as simple as he should play since he’s being paid to play. But I think it’s time to shut it down and look to 2015 when the Reds will very badly need Votto to be 100 percent and able to contribute.