After he was hit on the hand with a pitch in Sunday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Eugenio Suarez and the rest of us found out he’d broken his thumb. That meant it was merely an inevitability that he’d land on the 10-day DL, as that’s the type of injury that usually takes some 6-8 weeks to heal.
The Cincinnati Reds made that official on Monday, while also announcing that infielder Alex Blandino had been called up to take his place on the active roster. The Reds also opted to finally place OF Scott Schebler on the DL, too, as he’s not yet recovered from being hit on the funny bone on April 1st in the worst April Fool’s Day joke of all time. Zack Weiss will be recalled to take his spot on the roster.
The #Reds today made the following transactions:— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) April 9, 2018
Placed 3B Eugenio Suárez on the 10-day DL
Placed OF Scott Schebler on the 10-day DL, retro to 4/6
Recalled from Triple-A Louisville RHP Zack Weiss
Recalled from Triple-A Louisville 3B Alex Blandino pic.twitter.com/h2MA1D9oIp
Blandino, 25, was pulled from the Louisville Bats game on Sunday just minutes after news broke of the severity of Suarez’s injury, meaning his call-up was something of an inevitability, too. That’s probably the prudent decision, and I say that directly to all of those who have been pining for the Reds to bring up top prospect Nick Senzel to take over for Suarez at the hot corner.
Senzel, though, is up against a number of off-the-field barriers, most of which concern the front office’s ability to make sure he’s a Red for as long as the parameters of baseball contracts will allow. That means keeping him in the minors and off the roster for as long as possible, to be frank, which is something our friends at Redleg Nation detailed quite well earlier today. Blandino, while not nearly as highly touted a prospect as Senzel, is still a player with great promise, a former 1st round draftee with both a current spot on the 40-man roster and actual positive experience at the AAA level.
Blandino hit .265/.382/.453 between AA Pensacola and AAA Louisville in 2017, including an excellent .270/.390/.444 mark in 237 PA with the Bats. He can play 3B, 2B, and SS in a pinch, and his ability to control the strike zone was on clear display in his 2018 Cactus League performance, one that was good enough to have him in camp with a shot at making the Opening Day roster until the very last day of spring camp. And with Senzel needing to be stashed in the minors for roughly the same amount of time as it looks like Suarez will also be out, bringing up Blandino and getting him regular reps at the big league level gives the Reds a prime chance to see how he can cut it at the big league level, since he’s obviously a piece they’d like to have at their disposal going forward.
Of course, that’s assuming Blandino actually gets a chance to play regularly instead of retreads like Cliff Pennington and Phil Gosselin, and like you, I’m anxiously awaiting to see if Bryan Price gets that memo. Phil Ervin, for instance, has been languishing on the bench for much of the big league season despite also being a former 1st round pick with a decent set of skills, and he’s hardly been able to crack a lineup in the outfield even with Scott Schebler on the sidelines with an elbow issue.
So, we’ll see. Blandino’s no Senzel, and he’s certainly no Suarez, but he’s a guy we at Red Reporter dot com have been high on for quite some time, even when he struggled through a rough 2016 season. As chances to seize opportunities go, this one here seems like a great one for Blandino, with perhaps a 30-40 game stretch of regular playing time to show the big league brass what he can do. Here’s to him impressing, as the Reds will certainly need that to happen to help turn this season back into a promising one.
As for the Schebler news, it’s also a prudent move, albeit one that might well should’ve happened a few days ago. With the new 10-day DL (instead of 15-day), teams can only back-date for 3 days, meaning his DL clock technically started on April 6th, meaning he’s now out at least another week before eligible to come back. While that’s certainly a blow, the emergence of Jesse Winker has helped mitigate that for now, and with Phil Ervin also on board for OF depth, that certainly seems like the right call to let Schebler fully heal before returning. Weiss, who made the Opening Day roster before being optioned to AAA when the Reds signed Yovani Gallardo, will now return to a spot in the bullpen he certainly earned with a good spring.