Billy Hamilton was back in the Reds lineup on Wednesday, but instead of batting ninth — he was back at the top of the order. Much of that was because he could bat right-handed (his stronger side) vs. Pirates lefty J.A. Happ.
“He got in time yesterday to hit in the last group of BP after traveling from Pensacola, so we planned on giving him a scheduled day off after those three days in Pensacola and we anticipate him being in there regularly here through the rest of the year,” Reds manager Bryan Price said.
Hamilton was out on the disabled list on Aug. 19, one day after he sprained his right shoulder trying to make a diving catch vs. the Royals. He went 3-for-11 with three walks and a steal during a three-game rehab assignment at Double-A Pensacola. Most importantly, the shoulder passed every test.
“There wasn’t a play where I threw anybody out but I just tried to throw it hard anyway to see how my shoulder felt,” Hamilton said. “I had four at-bats each game, five in one. So I swung a lot and I tested my shoulder in the outfield when I threw a couple of balls in real hard. It felt really, really good. I’m just glad to be back.”
Hamilton liked the atmosphere in Pensacola, which clinched a spot in the Southern League playoffs.
“It was real fun,” he said. “Those guys, I’ve played with a few of them and been around most of them in spring training. It’s always good to see those guys and get back down there. It just feels good to be like in a playoff thing, whether it’s the big leagues or whatever you’re doing. I see those guys get all into it and be all about winning. It’s a good thing to be down there and knowing it’s getting closer to me playing is a good thing. I played there in 2012, and it was kind of fun to see those guys that were there – the staff and people who run it.”
*Kristopher Negron is out for the season for a torn labrum and fractured scapula in his left shoulder after his diving catch on Tuesday. Read about it here: http://atmlb.com/1NiL8FV
*Raisel Iglesias has a few more starts left before he will hit his innings limits, said Price. However, Michael Lorenzen could only have one or two starts remaining. Lorenzen has 143 2/3 innings combined with the Reds and Louisville. His limit is between 150-155 innings.
“He’s getting there,” Price said. “You know, when I say these things, I’m trying to be as direct as possible with you guys, but you also understand that under the circumstances we’re in that if I need another start from one of these guys, a bonus start or whatever, that I would do that. I don’t feel like these guys are five or seven innings from hurting themselves, we’re just trying to follow some protocols we have in place. We may have to work around those limits to a certain degree, but nothing of a significant number.”
The Reds announced during Monday’s game that four more players will be called up from Triple-A Louisville:
LHPs Tony Cingrani and Brandon Finnegan
RHP Josh Smith
IF/OF Kristopher Negron
The name not on the list that surprised me is RHP and No. 2 prospect Robert Stephenson. He had a 4.04 ERA in 11 starts for Louisville, but he was hit hard two outings ago in a short three-inning start not long after he missed some time on the disabled list.
“I wanted him to get the innings, I think he’s going to do that down in the instructional league, that’s my understanding,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “We just want to get him up and get him the innings so that if he makes the club or he’s up during the season next year that he’ll be — we won’t have to look at cutting him off in September because he hits an innings limit. My big concern for Robert is he get the innings. If it’s not here and we feel he’s better served in the instructional league, I’m fine with that, as well.”
Cingrani will be used from the bullpen this month.
“He can pitch two-to-three innings,” Price said. “We’ve been without a lefty for a long time beyond Chapman. As you can see, we get into these situations where I’m using Badenhop or Diaz, in today’s case. Trying to find our right-handers to get lefties out consistently. It’ll be nice to have. Manny should be able to pitch here in the next couple of days. Having Tony will be nice for that situation too, just to be able to match up every now and again. It’s challenging not to have a situational left-hander when teams can stack their lineup against right-handed starters, that will be a bonus for us for sure.
For jersey number enthusiasts, Finnegan will wear No. 31. Price said he would likely be used out of the bullpen for the time being as the big league club gets a first up-close look at him.
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Although it looked like the Reds were considering alternatives, manager Bryan Price revealed Monday morning that Keyvius Sampson would return to start on Wednesday vs. the Pirates.
“[He had] the three-inning start and so he seems to be the best set to come back and pitch,” Price said.
Sampson has a 9.00 ERA over his last five starts and has not pitched more than four innings in any of his last four games.
“It’s getting acclimated to the big leagues and also trying to define where he’s best situated,” Price said. “Our current circumstance is we have a real need for starting pitching here. We’ll be bringing up, I’m sure, some of the guys that were in the rotation at Louisville. I think Keyvius has the stuff and the pitch assortment to start. He just needs to harness his command as he did the first couple of times out because that would work as a starter. We’ll be adding enough arms to where we feel if any of these guys get off to a slow start and need to go to the bullpen, we can do that with the depth we’ll have here by [Tuesday].”
**Eighth-inning set-up man J.J. Hoover has had himself a nice 2015 season after a lousy 2014. He has a 2.25 ERA entering Monday and a team-leading 62 appearances — seven shy of his career high. But Hoover has allowed a home run in each of his last three outings and at least one walk in five of his last six games. Hoover had never previously given up a homer in three-straight appearances.
What’s been the issue?
“I think that he’s missed some locations and they’re seeing the ball a little bit earlier than usual,” Price said. “I would say that a lot of about pitching is deception and when you’re giving up consistently good swings, typically it’s location mistake and the fact that hitters are seeing the ball fairly well. It means he’s open a little early and you can see the ball a split-second earlier which is more time to make the decision whether it’s a good pitch to hit or not.
“You guys know where I stand on pitching, so much of it is just like hitting, we wish we had guys that had had stretches like J.J. had. If we had had everyone in our bullpen pitch with the type of consistency J.J. has, we’d be in a little bit better place than we are right now, I can tell you that. I think it’s simply a stretch, just like a hitter gets struggling a little bit.”
The Reds made their first two September call-ups on Tuesday, the day that rosters can expand. They were right-handed reliever Carlos Contreras and catcher Ramon Cabrera from Triple-A Louisville. A corresponding move for the 40-man roster is pending to make room for Cabrera.
Also — rosters for the Arizona Fall League were announced. The following will be suiting up for the Peoria Javelinas:
RHP Stephen Johnson from Double-A Pensacola (and the pitcher acquired for Marlon Byrd)
RHP Layne Somsen from Triple-A Louisville
RHP Nick Travieso from Advanced Class A Daytona
RHP Zack Weiss from Pensacola
SS Alex Blandino from Pensacola
OF Phillips Ervin from Pensacola
C Chad Wallach from Daytona
Derrin Ebert from rookie-level Billings will serve as Peoria’s pitching coach.
More to come later on both developments on MLB.com/Reds.com
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