Reds CF Billy Hamilton came out of Tuesday’s game against the Giants with a jammed left thumb, the same one that has bothered him since April 15 after a home run robbing catch of Matt Carpenter in St. Louis.
Hamilton was out of the lineup on Wednesday vs. San Francisco. But he’s available off of the bench.
“I think he’s playable. I don’t think he’s unable to play,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense to have to take him out of the game with inflammation and then fire him up there the next day. I’d like to see it calm down and feel more optimistic that he’s back to normal before I put him in there for a start.”
Hamilton may not be able to hit, but he can still change a game with his speed — either on the bases as a pinch-runner or defensively.
“It’s his glove hand so from a defensive and base running standpoint, it doesn’t limit him,” Price said.
By over a run, the Reds bullpen had the worst ERA in the Majors entering Tuesday at 6.54. No matter what combination manager Bryan Price has tried, there has been no success to build from. The bullpen tied a MLB record last night by allowing at least one run in 20 consecutive games.
There are some options among the prospects at Triple-A, and even Double-A, but the Reds appear not ready to summon them as reinforcements. That of course puts the manager in a tight spot when it comes to holding leads in the late innings.
“The answer to the question is keeping the eye on the progression of the players. Do we believe they’re ready to pitch in the big leagues?” Price said on Tuesday. “By bringing them to the big leagues early, can we slow their development? That’s the question organizationally that’s being asked when it comes to these players that you’re talking about. Because of the way we came into the season, saying we’re going to bust our tails to win as many as we can but we understand we’re transitioning somewhat, the impetus is not to say, ‘Let’s just reach down and grab the guy who’s pitching the best and get him up here as quick as possible.’ If we felt we were on the verge of winning the World Series, I think we would take more risks. Because of where we are, we’re not going to take the same risks early in the season. That would be my stance on it. My understanding.”
What about a reliever like Steve Delabar, a 32-year-old veteran who was signed to a Minor League deal just before the season? Delabar has a 2.38 ERA through eight appearances, but 10 walks in 11 1/3 innings.
“Good stuff. Walks are high,” Price said. “He’s just under a walk per inning. [We need to] get him harnessed back in the zone, but I think everyone in the organization believes he’ll be able to help us at some point in time this year. He’s throwing the ball good, good arm strength. He can miss the bat. The Major League experience is a bonus, but we’d like to see him controlling the strike zone better.”
The Reds announced that Tuesday’s scheduled starter vs. the Giants, Jon Moscot, has been scratched and will be replaced by left-hander John Lamb.
Lamb, who was on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville while trying to return from December back surgery, was scratched from his scheduled start on Monday when it became possible that Moscot would not be able to start.
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Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips was missing again from the lineup on Wednesday vs. the Mets.
“Still a little banged up,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “We’re going to see what he’s going to be able to do today, get him moving around and see how he’s feeling. More than the hand is the shin is bothering him a little bit. We’re just going to have to get him out there, get him active, get him more treatment and see if he’s able to do something for us tonight during the game.”
Phillips was hurt Monday when he fouled two Noah Syndergaard pitches off of his left shin, and then was hit on the left ringer finger by a fastball in the same plate appearance. I would not be shocked if he returns Friday, following Thursday’s team off day. That would give him three days to recover.
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Eugenio Suarez was excited to be batting fourth on Tuesday vs. the Mets, it was the first time batting there in his brief career. It was needed by manager Bryan Price with Brandon Phillips needing a day off after being hit by a pitch on Monday.
“They trust me. I feel so happy because he has that confidence,” Suarez said. “I won’t try to do more than I can do. I’ll hit the same as in the second hole.”
Said Price: “Also to give some good coverage behind Joey. Joey, without a Phillips, a Bruce, a Mesoraco, somebody that’s capable of doing some pretty extreme damage, I think he’s an easier guy to pitch around if you don’t have someone like Geno behind him. I really don’t want Geno to go out there and try to do anything different. His approach has been good. He’s really staying on pitches in the strike zone. He’s back to swinging it well again, so I don’t want to see him try to force the power. He’s done a pretty nice job of doing things in the two-hole getting to his power without really much effort.”
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