Reds CF Billy Hamilton is not in the lineup Sunday, one day after he banged up his left shoulder and wrist sliding headfirst into the foot of Indians shortstop Jose Ramirez while being caught stealing. Hamilton said after the game he expected to play Sunday and would be fine.
Bryan Price did not start Hamilton and went with Brennan Boesch in center field. It did not have to do with Saturday’s incident or lingering soreness, he explained.
“I think he’s fine,” Price said. “I planned on getting [Kristopher] Negron in there before the series started. And I ended up where I figured I would give him that spot at short and give Boesch and [Skip] Schumaker a chance to play a couple of days in a row and see if they can provide us with a little bit of a spark – two guys who haven’t gotten many starts along with Negron.”
Brandon Phillips is leading off for the Reds on Friday, something he hasn’t done this season and only once in 2014. Since his trade to Cincinnati, Phillips is a .350 hitter with nine homers and 32 RBIs vs. his old team, the Indians. But that figured less in Bryan Price’s decision to move him up to the top spot than the Reds overall struggles offensively (batting .238 as a team). They were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position and are hitting a Major League worst with RISP at .189.
“My feeling is really trying to figure out where we’re going to be most successful,” Price said. “Right now, it seems to me to be better served to do some match-up type of stuff based on where guys hit in the order. We’re just trying to find our way to where are consistently a better offensive team. Without Billy hitting at the top of the order, it really comes down to what are our options?
“Brandon has been getting a lot of base hits, not a lot of extra base hits, but he’s been on base at a lot better clip. He’s swinging the bat well. We need to get more guys on base and we have to be more productive in RBI situations. We haven’t been as good as I know we’re capable of being in these run-producing opportunities. Our batting average in these environments is not nearly good enough for us to be successful. I’m just trying to find the right mix and the right order. It’s unfair to a certain degree to move guys around every few games. I’m still trying to find some rhyme or reason to a lineup that isn’t producing at the rate that I think is capable of producing.”
I have these two games off. Back from Cleveland on Friday.
Reds manager Bryan Price made a pretty big change to the lineup on Sunday, moving Billy Hamilton out of the leadoff spot to eighth. Zack Cozart batted leadoff.
Before Sunday, Hamilton made 171 of 172 career starts batting in the leadoff spot with the lone exception when he batted ninth at Houston in his first-ever start in 2013. In 33 games this season entering the day, Hamilton is batting only .212 with a .264 on-base percentage that ranks near the bottom of the league among leadoff hitter who qualify.
I will have more later on MLB.com/Reds.com, but here are some quotes from manager Bryan Price and Hamilton:
“We’re going to see where it goes. We’re trying to get — it’s like the bullpen and sorting out the bullpen. We didn’t get off to the start we expected to with the bullpen and we’re trying to find our way offensively and it’s been a little more challenging than I anticipated to be consistently really efficient offensively. I just thought it made sense to take a look at getting some of our higher on-base guys at the top of the order. Cozart, Pena’s hitting second today. Just try to get some guys on base for the middle of the order guys and take a little bit of the load off. There’s this whole thing we’re always saying with Billy, ‘You go, we go.’ It really shouldn’t be that way — when we’re going, it’s because we’re all going. Because we’re all doing what we need to be doing collectively well. I think it’d be really nice to have Billy doing some things down at the bottom, maybe helping set the table for the top of the order. The way Zack’s been swinging the bat, Pena, leading to Joey, Frazier, Byrd, Brandon, et cetera. It could be a good thing. I’m certainly optimistic it will be.”
“You’ve got to roll with it. When you’re playing like I’m playing, you can’t do anything about it. It’s not going to put me in a bad situation – my confidence is still there. It’s a spot in the lineup. I’m still happy to just be in the lineup. It’s been tough this year so far and everything, but it’s his decision. If I was playing better, it would be way different. I can’t say anything about it the way I’m playing, I’ve just got to deal with it.”
Jay Bruce came into Friday batting .162 and .133 for this month while he’s in a 6-for-45 clip. Although he came a couple of feet from hit went hitting a grand slam in Thursday’s 4-3 win, he went 0-for-3 and had left seven on base. Bruce was given a night off from the lineup, but it wasn’t a benching. It had more to do with the fact that Giants lefty ace Madison Bumgarner was on the mound. Bruce is 2-for-17 (.118) lifetime vs. Bumgarner. Kristopher Negron started in right field.
“I’ve got to find my days for the other guys,” manager Bryan Price said. “I’m hoping to get Boesch in this series and give him a start. I have to pick my times for these guys. Sometimes if it’s a tougher match-up, I will do that. It’s nothing to read into anything other than a day off [for Bruce] against a tough lefty.”
*Brandon Phillips was back in the lineup after he missed two games with turf toe on his left foot. Phillips is using some orthotic inserts in his spikes to get some more comfort.
“He’s had the 48 hours of recovery time,” Price said. “He had a lot of treatment. He’s been seen by a foot specialist and all those things. We don’t force our players to play. We have to make sure that they’re comfortable being on the field. Most of them, if not all of them, are slightly banged up right now anyway. It’s just part of the grind of a long season.”