Jose Barrero, shortstop of the future for the Cincinnati Reds, apparently took that picture up there with a busted hamate bone in his left wrist. He’d irritated his wrist at some point during the offseason, and had presumably recovered and moved back into getting prepped for what was set to be his first full season in the big leagues, but an aggravation of it while in camp in Goodyear caused further evaluation, where the hamate bust was subsequently discovered. The Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans relayed the news last night, noting that it’s expected that Barrero will miss six weeks in the recovery process.
Sources: Reds SS Jose Barrero has a hamate injury in his left hand and is expected to miss six weeks. He's getting a second opinion from a hand specialist on Monday.— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) March 20, 2022
There’s a lot to unpack here.
First and foremost, you have to wonder just how different this injury and recovery would have looked had it happened during a non-lockout winter, one where players and clubs would’ve been in close contact in the event of anything like this. And, if so, you have to wonder whether Barrero would’ve been fully recovered from this by now and in no threat of missing actual pro games to start 2022.
Secondly, it calls into question the paper-thin depth the Reds have all over the field right now. Kyle Farmer has remained the presumptive everyday SS option, for whatever reasons, to the point where Barrero was even given a half-dozen or so starts in CF to finish last season just to get him some experience. The Reds have neither addressed their gaping holes in the OF this offseason nor brought in another backup SS option, meaning Barrero was set to figure prominently somewhere in this current mish-mashed roster overhaul, and now he’s set to be sidelined until at least early May. Even Alfredo Rodriguez, signed to a multi-million deal the same winter as Barrero, just got released last week while Barrero’s nebulous injury still sat in question, and while Pasta never hit a lick in his time in the system, at least he was a ready-made glove man that could’ve helped somewhere. Now, the Reds need help there in the biggest way.
Third, and I can’t help but point it out, is that the start of Barrero’s big league career as a top hitting prospect is already trending down the Nick Senzel path of confusion and chaos, and it’s frustrating as hell to watch. Position changes, injury, and a very odd lack of commitment to getting him set and settled in one role to flourish all seem parallel, and I can only hope that the six weeks off resets the clock a bit to let Barrero settle into being one thing on which the Reds can set and forget.
In the meantime, Donovan Solano has shortstop experience, even though he’s only started 2 games there over the last two seasons. Alejo Lopez has some shortstop experience in the minors, and a little bit more than that in the Mexican League, but that’s about the extent of what’s around for now. Aside from that, the options get quite slim, with [coughs] old friend Mike Freeman perhaps the most high profile free agent option still out there.
In other news, it appears Lucas Sims will miss Opening Day, too. MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon relayed that while it’s not one thing in particular that’s ailing Sims, a series of setbacks and speedbumps has him a bit behind schedule, and as one of the very few dependable arms in the bullpen, the club’s going to play it safe with him.
The Reds have brought in outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. on a minor league deal. He hits right handed, can play a little defense, and...well, there’s a reason he was available in late March on a minor league deal - it’s been a few years since he hit a lick at the big league level. The former 1st round draftee would make a half-decent LIDR and 5th OF, in all fairness, it’s just that the Reds are choosing to address that while the status of OFs 1, 2, 3, and 4 are still up in the air that’s more concerning here. He also cannot play SS.
Finally, here’s an MLB.com list of former top prospects facing ‘make or break’ seasons in 2022, with one Cincinnati Red featuring prominently.