The Reds are in some ways, literally, limping to the finish with several player injured and either limited or completely unavailable.
“Never have I seen a team with so few options in September as we have right now. It’s something to see,” manager Bryan Price said on Saturday morning.
*Billy Hamilton remains out with a mild concussion. While feeling better, he still has symptoms.
“Right now, it seems somewhat unlikely that he’ll be able to play this weekend,” Price said.
*Devin Mesoraco is back in the lineup. He missed the last two games with a left intercostal (rib) strain.
“He could have hit,” Price said. “He was on deck [Friday] if Barnhart or Cozart would have gotten on. He could have given us an at-bat yesterday. It was really receiving that was more of the challenge. I wanted to give him the one more day to make sure, because I want him today and I want him tomorrow to catch. I want him to catch Johnny [Cueto].”
*Brayan Pena is limited because of an undisclosed injury. When asked, Price would not reveal what Pena was dealing with.
“He’s more of an emergency option right now behind the plate,” Price said. “I’ll tell you after tomorrow’s game. He’s a little banged up. He might have to still end up getting back there. Like a lot of guys, he has some physical maladies here at the end of the year that are making what they do a little more challenging. I have to pick my ways on how to use them.”
*Via the teams’ media relations departments, Price reached out through channels to Cardinals manager Mike Matheny to explain why many of his regulars weren’t playing vs. the Pirates — including closer Aroldis Chapman, who also couldn’t pitch Friday with a stiff shoulder. St. Louis is trying to hold off Pittsburgh for the NL Central title.
“I felt it was fair that they understood that. We’re not going ‘hey we’re taking a look at our younger guys’. There are guys that cannot play or will not play or are limited in their ability,” Price said. “That was just three players. There are others on there that can’t play but I wasn’t going to announce to Major League Baseball who is an active player on our roster and who isn’t. I felt like it was the right thing to do simply because I think we’ve really honored this September. We utilized the Baltimore and Chicago series to play more of the younger guys. In the other series, I feel like we’ve played it as straight-up as we possibly can and tried to put the best team on the field based on the matchups and based on who was healthy enough to play. I did want them to know that we’re not trying to just play out the season and take a look at our younger players. We’re trying to put the best team on the field with what we have to choose from.”
“I value the relationships I have with the other managers. As a first-year manager, I don’t want these guys to think I don’t have any understanding of the teams that are in a playoff chase are going through.”
Matheny appreciated Price’s gesture.
“That was a professional move and I’d hope I’d do the same thing,” Matheny told St. Louis reporters on Friday night. “They have to take care of their guys and do what they have to do.”
As for missing so many players all season, Price was asked if he ever thought about what his team could have done if it had only an average number of injuries.
“I don’t,” Price replied. “I played for Rich Morales, who was my Double-A manager with the Mariners. One time in a meeting, he said to our farm director – Jim Beattie … he said ‘Jim, you deal the cards and I’ll play ‘em.’ What I got out of that was whoever I have, give me whoever you want and I will play that hand. I’m not going to complain about it. It is what it is and we’ll manager whoever I have on my roster. I always admired Rich a great deal and appreciated it. We can all complain about it but it doesn’t make you any better.”
Reds general manager Walt Jocketty agreed to an extension to remain to the club.
“Yeah, it’s done. It’s multi-year,” Jocketty said on Friday. “I’ve got a great relationship with Bob [Castellini, the Reds CEO]. In my position, there are two things that are important. You have to have a great relationship with your owner and you have to have a great relationship with your manager. I have that here with both those guys.
“I’m fully committed to trying to get this team back into the postseason because I think we’re good enough to do that with a little bit of help here. I think our ownership certainly deserves it and our fans deserve it.”
First-year Reds manager Bryan Price, who has two years remaining on his contract, received a full endorsement as well after what’s been a disappointing season for Cincinnati. Jocketty voiced his satisfaction with Price’s work.
“Absolutely,” Jocketty said. “I feel bad for him – the things he had to overcome this year, the injuries and bringing in a new staff and new ideas. I thought he did an excellent job. I know the players feel that way.”
When asked about the future of the coaching staff, Jocketty declined comment.
Reds closer Aroldis Chapman notched his 35th save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning during a 5-3 win over the Brewers, but it wasn’t without a bump. As Chapman struck out first batter Rickie Weeks, he appeared uncomfortable. It brought out the trainer and pitching coach Jeff Pico. After a few moments, Chapman was allowed to continue.
“He was a little stiff; he had a hard time getting loose, which isn’t unusual,” manager Bryan Price said. “I think if you wanted to go through the clubhouse right now and ask anybody if they feel real good when they go out there, if they were honest, they’d probably say, ‘No, not real good.’ But I think we’re right there; we’re right there towards the finish line. And I think we’re just trying to survive and make it all the way. And you’ve noticed, there’s guys that haven’t pitched in a week; there’s a reason for that, it’s not just personal choice.”
Chapman threw 12 pitches, nine for strikes. Only one of them was 100 mph.
Among those who haven’t been used lately — Manny Parra last pitched on Sept. 17 and Logan Ondrusek’s last appearance was Sept. 14.
A good guess for defensive play of the night…
UPDATE — Hamilton left the game in the 5th inning, diagnosed with “a mild concussion,” according to the Reds.
Reds starting pitcher Mat Latos is no longer in the picture for what’s left of this season because of the bone bruise in his right elbow. Latos is already working on his rehabilitation to be ready for 2015.
“I don’t think there’s concern that there are long term issues,” manager Bryan Price said on Wednesday. “I think he has some inflammation. It’s been strictly a rehab process to this point. He’s been able to throw but not able to throw completely pain free. He’s been examined by Dr. [Tim] Kremchek. He’s been getting regular attention from [head trainer] Paul Lessard and training the staff. We anticipate him — without any hiccups, any concerns at all – going into Spring Training 2015. There are no reservations at all in that regard.”
*Price said he visited with injured pitcher Homer Bailey for 30 minutes in his office on Tuesday. Bailey, who has been working out at Beacon Orthopedic while the club was out of town, hasn’t been in the clubhouse when the media has been allowed in. He had surgery to repair a small tear in the flexor mass tendon near his right forearm earlier this month.
“He’s one guy who is ready to get that sling off of his arm, I’ll tell you that,” Price said.
The expectation is that Bailey should be ready to be in the rotation when next season starts.
“I don’t think he’s in jeopardy of missing any significant time during next year, if any at all,” Price said. “We’re hoping he’ll be ready by Opening Day but if not, it should be somewhere to close to it.”
Brayan Pena has caught most of Johnny Cueto’s starts this season but not his last two, including Tuesday vs. the Brewers. Pena was also not at first base and out of the starting lineup altogether for the fourth time in five games.
Once again on Tuesday, Todd Frazier played first base while Kristopher Negron played third base.
Brayan’s had a terrific year for us; he’s done way more than we ever expected as far as playing first,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “He’s played a lot, he’s played more than he ever has played at this level. I may periodically play him at first and pinch hit and stuff like that, but I’m giving some other guys a chance to play right now.”
Although the backup catcher, Pena started 43 games at first base this season — a gigantic leap considering he played only parts of four games there his entire career. While he wouldn’t be considered a Gold Glove talent in the field, he really has done a nice job filling in for Joey Votto. He made just one error and has also turned in a more than a few nice defensive stops this season.
Here is one of his finer stops: