The Cincinnati Reds could possibly have Brandon Phillips back at 2B and in their lineup as soon as Monday night's game against the St. Louis Cardinals if all goes completely to plan. According to C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Phillips could begin a rehab assignment with the Louisville Bats as early as Friday, and if BP feels that he's strong enough and that his timing is right, he could rejoin the Reds in time for the three game showdown at Busch Stadium next week.
Given the context of today's lineup against the Boston Red Sox, that's potentially large news.
Phillips was no world-beater before hitting the DL on July 11th with torn tendons in his left hand, but even his .272/.308/.392 line could find a way to augment the struggling Reds offense (with his defensive abilities obviously speaking for themselves).
Ramon Santiago has stepped into the infield fold often in the absence of both Phillips and Joey Votto, and he's performed rather admirably in that time. Since Phillips went down, the versatile veteran has hit .228/.343/.333 with more walks (9) than strikeouts (8) while getting spending time at 2B in parts of 9 games, and he's provided solid (if not plus) defense at each position he's played. Kris Negron has also filled in capably with Phillips out, complimenting Santiago's on-base ability with a little pop and an overall .241/.281/.444 line in parts of 10 games at 2B.
As it stands, if any of these guys had the bat to profile at 1B, things would have a chance to get bettter by leaps and bounds. As much as we love Brayan Pena and his NERTS, he's hit just .255/.291/.364 in his 117 PA as the makeshift 1B in 2014, and the gap between that production and what has been counted on from Joey Votto is far larger than the drop-off seen at 2B over the past five weeks.
Things should at least get more consistent with Phillips back in the lineup with the possibility that he can channel his younger self for a stretch run that could vault the Reds into a Wild Card spot. The reality is, however, that until Votto comes back with a much healthier quad than he played on early in the summer, there's just not a whole lot that we can expect to see change about an offense that ranks 26th in baseball in runs scored in 2014.
The dugout will be a hell of a lot smilier, though.