CINCINNATI — Jay Bruce collected a career-best five hits Wednesday night and Todd Frazier hit two home runs, including a game-ending grand slam in the 13th inning to beat the Detroit Tigers, 8-4.
Guess where both were for Thursday’s game against the Tigers and Justin Verlander? They were on the bench. They were in the dugout. They were not on the lineup card in the batting order.
Manager Bryan Price believes it is rest time for some of his regulars with the Reds in the midst of 20 straigh games with no days off. That’s why he gave Joey Votto a day off Wednesday. Votto did pinch-hit late in the game, but did not stay in the game.
AS PRICE SAID, “What’s the point in putting him into the game if you are giving him a day off. That defeats the purpose.” When Price gives a guy a day off he doesn’t even like to use him as a pinch-hitter, except in emergency situations.
And in Frazier’s case — a guy who hit four home runs in two days — there might be more to it. After the game, Frazier had a large ice bag on his right knee. During the late stages of Wednesday’s game, he slid hard into home plate on a ball hit to Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera. Frazier slid hard into the catcher and was called out, but the ball was ruled foul and Frazier walked and limped slowly back to third base.
But, of course, he was healthy enough to crush that game-winning grand slam home run in the 13th inning for an 8-4 victory.
THERE WAS ONE other curious move Wednesday that Price calmly explained. He sent up pitcher Mike Lorenzen to pinch-hit when he still had catcher Tucker Barnhart on the bench. And it wasn’t because he was saving Barnhart as the last catcher. He could have moved catcher Brayan Pena to first base and left Barnhart in the game to catch if he had pinch-hit.
Price laughed and acknowledged how it look from afar and said, “I’m sure it came across to Tucker as, ‘What the heck?, because for him it is personal. For me, I think the kid can hit but I don’t want to burn my last position player.
“By keeping Barnhart out we had the flexibility of one more bench player,” said Price. “And Lorenzen, I felt, against a left hander gave us a chance to get a base hit. Barnhart (a switch-hitter) has been more effective as a left handed hitter and I give him more more left handed at bats. I thought the risk-reward of not having anybody else on the bench if I used Tucker was outweighed by having Lorenzen hit. And I felt optimistic that Lorenzen would get a hit.”
AS EXPECTED, the news on pitcher Jon Moscot was not good. He requires surgery to stabilize the shoulder he separated making a diving tag during a rundown play.
“He has some fairly significant damage in the shoulder that requires surgery,” said Price. “It is not good news because it will be a longer time before he is able to pitch. He certainly will be ready for 2016. It is something he had to do to create stability in the shoulder.”
PRICE ON FRAZIER: “He is THAT guy and there is nothing contrived about him. It is just who he is. He is a bundle of energy. If we’re down in a ball game, even four or five runs, he is the loudest guy on the bench. He is the guy who shows up every day to find a way to win ball games.”
MARLON BYRD, playing his first game on rehab for Class AA Pensacola Wednesday night, hit a three-run home run that landed in the Gulf of Mexico.
“He hasn’t had any setbacks with his injury (fractured wrist) and has healed faster than we anticipated,” said Price. “He was eager to get someplace to play and get at-bats we need to see to know we can activate him.”
Byrd plays another rehab game for Pensacola Thursday and if it goes as expected he probably will be back with the Reds Friday night.
TODD FRAZIER, talking about new relief pitcher Donovan Hand’s 67 miles an hour curve ball: “He’d be ticketed in Jersey for clogging up traffic.”