CINCINNATI — For the first few weeks after the All-Star break, Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price could have made out his daily lineup cards in a pile of duplicates because it never changed: Billy Hamilton, Zack Cozart, Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Adam Duvall, Brandon Philllips, Eugenio Suarez, Tucker Barnhart and the starting pitcher of the day.
It seldom varied and was one of the major reasons the Reds gegtan winning regularly after the break, winning their first six series.
And then Jay Bruce was traded. And then Brandon Phillips began piling up injuries on most parts of his anatomy. And Cody Reed was a fatal flop and had to be shipped back to the minors. And then Billy Hamilton got hurt. And then Adam Duvall got hurt. And then Michael Lorenzen went home on bereavement leave.
Suddely the Reds lineup looks as if Price drew it out of a hat or threw darts at pictures to come up with a batting order. He had no choice, or very few choices.
“We’ve been down this road before and this one all came at us at one point in time,” said Price. “The good news is that none of this requires the disabled list, nobody is a week away from playing, but for the short term we are a little short of players.”
HAMILTON LOST AN ARGUMENT with the center field wall Monday night, flinging himself against it trying to make a catch. Instead, the wall caught him and hit him hard.
“Billy actually had a couple of collisions with the wall and there are some repercussions,” said Price “He has some significant bruising from running into the wall at full speed. He’ll need a little bit of time.”
And Duvall? “He fouled one off the top of his foot in the fourth inning (Monday) and he gutted it out and it was noticable until his last at bat when he was hobbling around. He is going to be in some pain for another day or two.”
And Phllips? He has been playing with a slightly fractured hand and an achy left knee. He added the right knee to the list Sunday in Milwaukee. “He banged up both his knees on the road trip and this is one of those things where he is usable but he and the team will be better-served if we give him another day off.”
Lorenzen returned home to California due to a family emergency and his length of absence is uncertain.
TIM ADELMAN, WHO HAS been performing well at Class AAA Louisville, was recalled Tuesday and is scheduled to start Friday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. But there is an ‘if’ attached. He was brought up early in case a starter is knocked out early or if rain intervenes early in a game and the starter can’t return. Then Adelman would be used in long relief and his Friday start would fall to Keyvius Sampson. Sampson is unavailable for bullpen duty because he pitched five innings Sunday in Milwaukee when Cody Reed couldnt get out of the second inning.
“I liked the way he was pitching before he got hurt,” said Price. “He was an organizational depth guy, not a 40-man roster guy. But he pitched really well in Triple-A and then pitched well for us until he got hurt (oblique).
“Then he went to Triple-A after the injury and had three consecutive seven-plus outings with two runs or less,” Price added. “He is our next best. You can look at guys who we call our prospects (Robert Stephenson, John Lamb, Amir Garrett), our heralded prospects, but you also have to perform beyond your prospect status. You can be a prospect, but you still have to perform. We stay on top of our organization as to who is performing and it is nice to promote guys who are performing best. We should be rewarding guys who are performing in Triple-A.”
THERE IS NO DOUBT that Hamilton performs at warp speed. There is no throttle-down in his game. His all-out effort on everu play leads to injuries, but Hamilton continues to play like Eric Davis and Ryan Freel once did for the Reds — sacrifice the body for the good of the team.
And Price knows that asking Hamilton to shift it down a bit is like asking a bear to stay away from the honey. Price doesn’t even want to ask Hamilton to quit trying to run through walls.
“I have not told him not to run into walls and I have not asked him to play more cautiously,” said Price. “His value, when he wasn’t hitting, was that he could be and was a difference-maker on defense. The major component of his game is the aggression, not just defensively, but offensively, too
“He is diving into bases and jamming his hands sliding head first and there is a question of should we instruct him to slide feet first,” said Price. “There are certain things that if we remove them from his game is going to remove from his value. But there is merit because if he misses too much time, two and three-day periods where he can’t play due to his style of play, it might be something down the road that we might have to address.”
But that won’t happen now and, realistically, probably not ever because that is his modus operandi. And Price tends to agree.
“It is how he plays the game and I’d hate to talk him down from that level,” said Price.