Game 34: vs. PIT

Reds back to eight-man ‘pen

The Reds added another arm for the beleaguered bullpen Monday by recalling right-handed reliever Layne Somsen from Triple-A Louisville. Outfielder Kyle Waldrop was optioned to Louisville to make room for Somsen.

This is the second promotion for Somsen, who was called up on April 25 for three days while outfielder Jay Bruce was on paternity leave but did not get into a game.

Over his eight appearances for Louisville, Somsen has a 1.29 ERA and 0.857 WHIP over 14 innings. He has walked six and struck out 15.

Game 33: vs. PIT

Game 30 vs. MIL

Lineup notes: Hamilton 2nd

For the second time this season (and his career) Billy Hamilton started a game batting second in the lineup on Thursday vs. the Brewers.

Hamilton, who has picked up lately after a slow start and struggles last season, has mostly been batting ninth (13 times) and is ideally a leadoff hitter. But manager Bryan Price likes the idea of trying him at the second spot, and keeping Eugenio Suarez down in the sixth spot after he batted second most of the first month of the season.

“[Hamilton] is swinging the bat better, that’s first and foremost. No. 2, I really felt like I wanted Suarez further down in the lineup,” Price said on Thursday. “He’s already been, but I think he’s going to be a really productive offensive player. As much as we’ve discussed the importance of the second spot in the lineup and who is best situated … I just think for Billy to affect us in a positive way offensively, he’s got to be down here being somewhat more disruptive while these other guys are hitting. In order for this to work, he has to continue to swing the bat well and get on base.

“I would love to see him run with it. I think he’s put a lot of hard work in. He’s getting closer to putting those good, consistent swings on the ball. If that happens there, we have a nice dynamic there more towards the top than the bottom.”

Price did not want to move Zack Cozart out of the leadoff spot in favor of Hamilton. Why?

“Because of love what Zack is doing,” Price said. “There are certain things you just don’t want to mess with. I think with Billy hitting first, Zack is in a position of having to take more pitches. Right now he can go up there and zone a pitch and not feel like he’s got to give Billy a chance to run. I think that’s a good thing. Zack is taking advantage of the good pitches early in the count to hit, laying off the ones that aren’t good pitches. I don’t want to disrupt the flow of what he’s doing there.”

Game 29: vs. MIL

Hamilton available

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.

Game 28: vs. SF

The bullpen dilemma

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.”

Game 27: vs. SF

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.

Reds lineup:

Hamilton 8
De Jesus 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Bruce 9
Suarez 5
Duvall 7
Barnhart 2
Lamb 1

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