CINCINNATI — Scott Schebler took a 95 miles an hour fastball off his right funny bone Sunday afternoon, but it wasn’t funny to him, no humor in it at all.
It didn’t knock him out of the game, but it knocked him out of Monday’s game against the Chicago Cubs.
It is a case of Scott Schebler not doing what Scott Schebler did last year. He injured his shoulder making a diving catch and the numbess he felt was similar to the numbness he felt when he was hit Sunday.
Last year he tried to play through it and his batting average tumbled like dice on a craps table. He doesn’t want that to happen this year, especially after an excellent spring training and a .333 start this season.
“Normally, you hit your funny bone on something you are just passing by, like a wooden table, and it goes numb for a while and comes right back,” said Schebler.
That’s what he thought when Washington closer Sean Doolittle plunked his elbow in the ninth inning. There was numbness and Schebler thought, “Even though he got me pretty good, the numbness will quickly go away and I’ll be OK.”
As he left the clubhouse Sunday night he told manager Bryan Price he’d be ready to play Monday and Price had him on the lineup card. But when Schebler awoke Monday the soreness was still there and he told Price it was a no-go.
“I lost some feeling in my fingers, that’s what I’m struggling with now,” he said. “I thought it would go away right away, but it is lingering. I took treatment Monday morning and it is already starting to feel better.”
But it isn’t something he plans to push.
“I am going to be extra-cautious with it after what happened last year, hurting my shoulder and trying to play through,” he said. “I’m going to make sure I’m good-to-go. This brought back bad memories of what I did last year to my shoulder because it felt similar.”
Schebler, who likes to spray the ball to all quarters of the park, was unable to do that after he hurt his shoulder, was only able to pull the ball. Teams, of course, noticed that and used the overshift to the right when he came to bat. He was unable to compensate and hit the ball to left field or up the middle.
THE REDS FOCUSED on two facets of the roster over the winter — the bullpen and the bench. They felt a veteran presence was needed on the bench, something they haven’t had since Skip Schumaker left after the 2015 season.
So they brought in 29-year-old three-year veteran Phil Gosselin and Cliff Pennington, a 33-year-old 11-year veteran and former No. 1 draft pick by the Oakland A’s.
Gosselin showed what he can do Sunday when he pinch-hit in the eighth inning, drew a full-count walk and scored a run. He stayed in the game and drilled a two-run home run in the ninth inning to draw the Reds within a run before they lost 6-5.
“His value is that he has been a very confident, productive bench-player in the past for Atlanta and Arizona,” said Price “I think last year (in Pittsburgh, .150) was just a blip. He looked good in camp, knows how to play the game because he is such a smart baseball player and makes the most out of his tools. I just want good professional at-bats off the bench and it has been tough to find since Schumaker in 2015.”
Gosselin hit .325 and .303 while splitting the 2015 season at Atlanta and Arizona. In 2016 he played in 122 games for the Diamondbacks .277 while doing the major part of the team’s pinch-hitting.
Gosselin said he had other options to sign with other teams as a free agent but chose the Reds becuse he likes the way Price uses his extra players.
“I felt this was the best spot for me because Bryan does such a good job of working his bench guys into games,” said Gosselin. “I noticed that when I played against the Reds, so I thought this was a good fit when they reached out for me during free agency.”
Versatility is Gosselin’s forte because he can play first base (not much playing time available there, though), second base, shortstop, left field and right field — he has played them all in the majors at some point.
Of his walk and home run Sunday, Gosselin said, “That was great because I’m on a new team and you want to show the guys you can help them out.
“I do have experience pinch-hitting and coming off the bench and it is tough when you first start doing it, but I did a lot of it in Arizona two years ago and that helped me. You get batter at it the more you do it.”
CLIFF PENNINGTON made his starting debut Monday, standing in for frazzled Jose Peraza, who has started the season 0 for 12 with five strikeouts.
Price didn’t mention Peraza’s struggles as a reason for his day off, but said instead, “I wanted to get Cliff in there and I plan on getting Gosselin a start soon, too. It is just to get them a bit more acclimated and give them a little more playing time.”
Price talks about Pennington the same way he talks about Gosselin.
“He is similar, a very professional approach to what he does,” said Price. “He defends well and that was his No. 1 tool coming out of the draft a number of years ago. He is a good middle-of-the-diamond defender. He is a switch-hitter who knows the strike zone and gives us professional at bats off the bench. He is a savvy baserunner.
He is good for our young guys, a guy like Peraza. I saw them working together out at shortstop the other day, talking about different scenarios. He is a terrific guy to have around our young shortstop.”