A spattering of injury news to report on for the Major League club over the last week. First things first, Joey Votto has been progressing in his rehab, graduating from the cage to on-the-field hitting sessions and also taking groundballs at first base. Not quite three weeks into rehab, the four week timetable is still in play for his return, as all reports are positive regarding Joey's recovery. The team could not conceivably played any better in his absence, having gone 19-3 through Saturday's games. Today, the Reds go for the sweep against the closest division rival Pirates. We live in interesting times.
Speaking of sweeping the Pirates, it's impressive enough to do so without our best player and MVP candidate, but if we do so, it will also be without our second best player in Brandon Phillips. Baker has announced that BP will sit out the final game of the series still nursing a strained calf. It will be the 5th straight day BP has missed, after leaving the game early on July 31. He is not on the DL.
Devin Mesoraco and Wilson Valdez were also both unavailable for this series. Mesoraco sustained a concussion from a play at the plate during the previous series with San Diego and is on the 7-day DL; he is scheduled to come off the DL on Wednesday, July 8, but may have to serve a suspension at that time. That's really not the worst thing in the world, as concussions can have terrible lingering effects if a player rushes back too soon. Justin Morneau can attest to that, as a recent baseball example. Valdez has been held out of the lineup since getting a stiff neck on August 1, but is not on the DL. So the Reds have been playing this series two men short.
In bullpen news, Jonathon Broxton has arrived and helped out the Reds already. Welcome to the club, big (big) guy. But in injury news, Nick Masset finally toed an actual rubber in an actual game on August 2 for the Dayton Dragons. He started the game, pitching one inning. The timetable for Masset is completely busted at this point - what was supposed to be a month has turned into well over four. And his rehab is likely to be a rather lengthy one. At this point, I am not sure what the Reds are going to be able to get from Masset this year. If he returns at all, it's difficult to say how effective he can be, and it's also going to be very difficult to bump someone out of the bullpen to make room for him, as everyone down there has been stellar this year. If/when he returns, my guess is Lecure goes to Louisville as he has options and can perhaps be stretched out to cover for the woeful lack of starting depth in AAA. Whether that move actually improves the bullpen, I am skeptical.
Bill Bray went back onto the DL July 31, this time with a strained muscle in his lower back. He was performing very poorly since returning from a groin problem anyway. Sadly, this is looking like a lost season for three guys who were expected to be key cogs in the bullpen this year. Ryan Madson will not throw a single pitch for the Reds, Masset has yet to do so, and Bray has given all of 8.2 terrible innings. And yet, the Reds have probably the best bullpen in all of baseball, with depth to spare in AAA too.
On the minor league front, three players returned to action for the AAA Louisville Bats, all on August 2. I wonder if Louisville has to pay each time they send in roster updates, because they like to save up and handle all their transactions on the same day. Pedro Villareal returned to the rotation after missing only 12 days with a shoulder sprain. Josh Judy returned to bolster the bullpen after missing 10 days with ankle impingement. I had never heard of that injury before. Brian Peacock returned after missing 8 days with a strained muscle in his lower back, picking up the slack for the recently recalled Dioner Navarro.