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.”
As he deals with turf toe on his left foot, Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips was out of the lineup Thursday — the second game in a row. Skip Schumaker started at second base vs. the Giants.
Phillips could return on Friday, however.
“I think it could be something that’s exacerbated by going out and playing nine innings,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “I think he could pinch-hit, or in an emergency go out there and play defense. I think he could probably do anything but it makes more sense to look at him as a possible starter for tomorrow’s game as opposed to tonight’s. that’s just being conservative. If he had to play, he could play. I think the risk-reward, considering that we have Schu, that we have the pieces that can fill in and give him another day of rest is probably the most prudent decision.”
The Reds claimed right-handed reliever Ryan Mattheus off of waivers on Wednesday from the Angels.
Expected to arrive in Cincinnati on Thursday, Mattheus was 0-2 with 2.84 ERA in 11 appearances this season for Triple-A Salt Lake. He made one big league appearance for the Angels, working a scoreless inning with one walk and two strikeouts.
The 31-year-old Mattheus spent 2011-14 with the Nationals. His best season was 2012, when he worked a career-high 66 games and posted a 2.85 ERA. The Angels signed him in January.
In 146 career relief appearances, Mattheus is 7-7 with 3.58 ERA.
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