CINCINNATI — It was with trepidation that manager Bryan Price and his Cincinnati Reds welcomed, sort of, Brandon Phillips back to town.
Even though the Reds still pay $13 million of his $14 million salary, Phillips now wears the uniform of the Atlanta Braves, batting second Friday night with his .294 batting average, but only three homers and 16 RBI.
“It would have been better if he had gone to the American League,” said Price. “Then we wouldn’t have to compete against him. I’m sure he wants to come in here and impress. I’m not looking forward to him coming back as a player. I’m sure he has extra motivation to perform.”
PRICE SAID ALL THE NICE and politially correct things about DatDudeBP when an Atlanta media person asked about him.
“What he is doing for them (the Braves) is nothing new,” said Price. “When the smoke clears at the end of the season you’ll be very happy with what you get. It is going to be run production, it is going to be stolen bases when you need them, it is going to be tremednous, flawless defense, all the things we became accustomed to in Cincinnati.
“I’m sure the Braves and their fans will be very, very pleased at the end of the season to see the type of numbers he’ll throw up there.”
The Reds dealt Philllips to Atlanta — actually are paying them $13 million to take him off their hands — to make room for young Jose Peraza at second base as part of the Reds Reconstruction Act. Phillips 36 and Peraza is just turned 23.
Peraza was batting seventh in Cincinnati’s lineup Friday night, batting .264 with one home run and 16 RBI.
And what did Phillips have to say about his return to Cincinnati? Who knows? Or nothing.
Several Cincinnati-area media hung around the Braves clubhouse for about an hour, waiting to talk to him. Finally, a Braves media relations person located Phillips and asked if he wanted to talk to the Cincinnati media. He had a one-word answer. “No.”
WITH SEVEN PITCHERS ON the disabled list, most pre-game discussions with the media in Price’s office is about what those disabled pitchers are doing, what are they going to do and when will they return.
AMIR GARRETT: Threw Thursday on the off day with pitching coach Mack Jenkins, a 35-pitch bullpen and it went well enough that he is expected back soon — Sunday against the Braves or maybe Monday against the St. Louis Cardinals.
“It is definitely possible he’ll be back in the rotation over the course of the next few days,” said Price. “We’re looking at Sunday, Monday or Tuesday for his return.”
HOMER BAILEY: Has pitched one inning and two innings in two appearances during extended spring training in Arizona. He will pitch three innings Saturday in a camp game in Arizona.
“We have three more outings scheduled for him before we consider whether he will be activated. We don’t know when that will be. We have to get through tomorrow and verify that everything is OK and before we continue on his schedule. We are going to do everything we can, without question, to verify that he is OK heading into his first major league start.
“Right now he feels great and he is bouncing back well,” Price added. “He is also throwing live BP — he did two sets of that. There have been no setback.”
BRANDON FINNEGAN: His situation is very similar to Bailey’s. “He is getting close, too, to going out on a rehab assignment.”
TONY CINGRANI: Made his second appearance for the Class A Dayton Dragons Thursday and will make a third appearances there Saturday.
“Right now it is nothing more than to see if he is durable enough to take on a workload,” said Price. “If we need him to pitch back-to-back games, he needs to be able to do that. If he can pitch two out of three, which is what he will do when he pitches Saturday, is a good indication if he’s ready. If he gets through tomorrow we should be able to activate him.”
IT COULD HAVE BEEN A broadcaster’s nightmare Friday when the Braves started MIke Foltynewicz. The Reds could have started Asher Wojciechowski.
Speaking of names, when the Reds sent Robert Stephenson to Class AAA Louisivlle and called up Jack Stephens, they made it easy on clubhouse manager Rick Stowe. All he had to do was take the ‘on’ off the back of Stephenson’s jersey and give it to Stephens. “And change the number,” Stowe said with a laugh.
EVEN THOUGH THE MILWAUKEE Brewers currently lead the National League Central and the Brewers have drawn great crowds since Miller Park was built, it is clear who rules Wisconsin.
The Reds and Brewers were scheduled to play a game at Miller Park at 8:10 Thursday night on September 28. But the NFL’s Green Bay Packers are playing that night, so the Brewers moved their game with the Reds to 4:10 in the afternoon.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“We do everything in pencil around here.” — Manager Bryan Price, talking about pitching plans with seven pitchers on the disabled list and near-daily change of personnel on the pitching staff.