With closer Aroldis Chapman back from paternity leave before Thursday’s series finale vs. the Pirates, the Reds cleared a roster spot by optioning utility player Kristopher Negron to Triple-A Louisville.
Negron, who had a strong Spring Training, was batting .141 with no home runs and two RBIs in 42 games during the regular season. He made 20 starts – at least one at every position except pitcher and catcher.
But playing time had been particularly sparse lately for Negron, who lasted started on June 16 when he appeared at shortstop vs. Detroit.
*Aroldis Chapman is “in transit” to Pittsburgh, Bryan Price said. Chapman, who missed two games on paternity leave, is expected to rejoin the club and be back on the roster in time for tonight’s game.
*From the MLB Network research department: Joey Votto sees more low pitches (54.7 percent of pitches) than typical (50.6 percent) because he is such a good low ball hitter – his .990 OPS in plate appearances ending down in the zone is second-best in the league behind Bryce Harper (.648 league average). Votto has 10 home runs off low pitches – one less than league leader Giancarlo Stanton.
*Also — Votto has reached base safely in 31 consecutive games, batting .312/.432/.596 in that stretch. Votto is batting .308 with a .419 on-base in 31 career PA vs. Pirates starter A.J. Burnett.
*Jay Bruce is 3-for-31 (.097) with 11 strikeouts lifetime vs. Burnett, hence his night off from the lineup.
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**** Brandon Phillips was scratched as of 3:15.
**** Phillips was scratched with a jammed left thumb. More later on reds.com and MLB.com.
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When Josh Smith takes the ball to start for the Reds on Tuesday night, he will be the fifth rookie to start a game for them this season. In 69 games, including Tuesday vs. the Pirates, a rookie has started for Cincinnati 31 times.
In other words, that’s a ton.
“You know what? This is our team,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “It’s a way better situation than last year in the sense we have a lot more pitchers that are ready to come up and contribute, especially in the starting rotation and pitch impactful innings. We’ve been very happy with what we’ve gotten out of our young guys. It’s going to be a challenge and go out there and expect these guys to pitch like veterans. They’re going to learn along the way. They’re going to take some lumps periodically but I’ve been extremely pleased with the way our guys go about their business and the development of DeScalfani, Lorenzen has thrown the ball extremely well. Now we’re going to see Josh. We’re going to see Iglesias when he gets back as well. In a lot of ways, it’s fun because it is what I anticipate we’ll be seeing here in the future as far as our starting rotation goes. We’ve got another wave of guys coming that are in Pensacola and Daytona. It won’t be long before we see a lot of these fresh faces here pitching for our club.”
This doesn’t appear to be a one-time spot start for Smith, who was called up when Johnny Cueto was pushed back. A fifth starter was also missing since Jon Moscot was injured in Detroit.
Why was Smith the one chosen for the promotion?
“Josh was pitching as well as anybody,” Price said. “He has an ERA of just over 3.00 for the season. He’s walked only 13 hitters in over 70 innings. He’s earned this opportunity. We had him up for a day or two before and didn’t get him into a game. Now, he’s in our rotation. Until we get 100 percent healthy, I imagine he’ll remain in our rotation.”
Both manager Bryan Price and Johnny Cueto agreed that the Reds ace could have pitched on Tuesday vs. the Pirates. Instead, Cueto is now starting on Friday vs. the Mets.
Cueto is going along with the plan and didn’t complain. But he also didn’t seem thrilled with the change.
“I don’t think anything. They’re the ones who know,” Cueto said via translator Tomas Vera.
Does he feel fine?
“Yeah, I could have pitched today but they’re the ones who know,” Cueto said.
Last month, Cueto missed a start because of right elbow stiffness. Price noted there was no new injury issue but the club also to give Cueto extra, extra rest to get him back to 100 percent.
“He had that little pocket of inflammation that has been an area where we’ve really tried to strengthen it when we skipped him after the Kansas City start and we haven’t gotten ourselves all the way back to 100 percent,” Price said. “It just seemed to make sense that we weren’t going to be able to get him there without giving him a little time off, and time for treatment and his strength back up. He could pitch. He could have pitched today just like he had the other starts. … I don’t see another window without having to do something with the roster and send somebody out and start to juggle and do things we didn’t want to do. We’re just taking advantage of a few days off.”
Price was asked if all was well with Cueto’s elbow.
“There’s nothing that’s inconsistent with what we’ve already dealt with this year,” Price replied. “All the MRI stuff he did in his elbow, all the structural stuff is great. That’s a non-issue. That little area of fatigue, I won’t say it’s nagging, but it’s been a pain in the backside and we’re trying to knock that out completely and get his strength where it needs to be and we shouldn’t have any issues the rest of the way.”
There will be more later on Reds.com/MLB.com.
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The Reds revised their starting rotation with an announcement on Monday that Josh Smith will be called up from Triple-A Louisville to start Tuesday vs. the Pirates in place of ace Johnny Cueto. It will be Smith’s Major League debut.
Following Smith for the rest of the Pittsburgh series will be Mike Leake on Wednesday and Anthony DeSclafani on Thursday. Cueto will pitch Friday series opener vs. the Mets at Citi Field, followed by Michael Lorenzen and Smith. According to a team spokesperson, the change was made to give Cueto a couple of extra days of rest but it was not specified if he was dealing with a health issue.
Also, the club revealed that closer Aroldis Chapman is on paternity leave.
I will be taking some time off for vacation and won’t be back until the June 23 for the road trip to Pittsbugh and New York.
As always, go to Reds.com and MLB.com for all of the latest news game reports and information.
It will be interesting to see where things are with the Reds when I return.