More starts for Barnhart
If you’ve noticed that catcher Tucker Barnhart has been starting more games than usual in the past couple of weeks, your mind isn’t playing tricks on you.
Barnhart started Sunday vs. the Brewers as he usually does for Mike Leake but he’s not been just a once a week backup. In the last 12 games, including Sunday, Barnhart has started six of them — and two of the last three. When the season started, of course, Devin Mesoraco had hoped to catch 140 games with Brayan Pena getting the rest of the chances. That plan went out the window when Mesoraco hurt his hip and is now out for the season.
Pena had gotten most of the starts since April, but manager Bryan Price is doing a more hybrid platoon these days.
“In part, he’s swung the bat well but Brayan has swung the bat well also,” Price said on Sunday morning. “I think he’s earned the right to play and to kind of split time with Brayan. I think you’ll see every five days, it will be three-and-two. That three one time might be three starts for Pena and two for Tucker and then flip it around. It will probably look that way for the rest year – go back and forth for three out of every five.”
Barnhart entered the day batting .276/.326/.414. He’s 12-for-29 (.414) over his last eight games and had a career-high four hits on Monday vs. the Twins.
***In other lineup news, Jason Bourgeois got the start in center field in place of Billy Hamilton and Ivan De Jesus Jr. started at shortstop in place of Eugenio Suarez as the Reds try to salvage one game of the series vs. the Brewers.
“I don’t think Billy needs a blow. I just think Jason needs to play,” Price said. “He should get more than an at-bat to keep him sharp. He went down for a full rehab in Arizona and Triple-A. If I let too much time go by where he doesn’t get multiple at-bats in a game, he might lose the feel for his swing.”
Price on De Jesus:
“He had a nice ballgame yesterday,” he said. “He’s the kind of guy that can kind of play all over. But with Marlon [Byrd] back. There won’t be as much opportunity to play left field. I’ve got to get [Skip Schumaker] in there every now and again to keep him fresh. Really, the spot is shortstop and maybe every now and again, give Frazier or Brandon a day off. He had a nice game yesterday. Maybe, it’s try to run with the hot hand a little bit. He’s given us good at-bats ever since he got here.”