The Reds bullpen has survived most of the season without two guys, Jonathan Broxton and Sean Marshall, who will make $8.5 million between them in 2013. Cincinnati’s bullpen ERA (3.48) ranks 12th in baseball.
“There’s always some unlikely heroes,” said Reds manager Dusty Baker on Friday before the start of a three-game series against the Brewers at Great American Ball Park. “Granted, you’re not operating at full strength with guys who had set roles and jobs and were getting paid handsomely for it. Now we’ve got to go with secondary guys, and hopefully they can do primary jobs.”
The Reds called up right-handed reliever Nick Christiani on Thursday from Triple-A Louisville to replace Broxton, who left Wednesday’s game with a torn flexor mass in his right forearm.
The Reds’ medical director Dr. Timothy Kremchek performed surgery on Broxton on Friday, and Broxton’s season is over.
“It could have been a much more severe operation,” Baker said. “If there is a silver lining, it’s that it wasn’t in the ligament. It wasn’t in the joint. From my knowledge, it could have been a lot worse, and he could be ready in five or six months.”
Broxton appeared in 34 games and went 2-2 with a 4.11 ERA. He was on the disabled list from June 15 to Aug. 7, so the Reds are used to playing without him.
Marshall hasn’t pitched since May 24 because of a shoulder injury. There’s no plan to rush him back now.
“You can’t put him on the fast track, just because somebody else is hurt, because you’ll end up hurting him worse,” Baker said. “What we have to do is try to find somebody else to take that portion of the job up. We’ve been doing that since I’ve been here, and we’ve been doing that a lot this year.”
Another Dragon: Christiani is the latest former Dayton Dragon to make it to the big leagues. He got his start in professional baseball with the Dragons in 2010 after being drafted out of Vanderbilt University and appeared in seven games before being called up to High-A Lynchburg.
“(Fifth Third Field) was amazing,” Christiani said. “The fans were top notch. They were sold out every night I was there. I had a great host family. I’ve got nothing but good things to say about Dayton.”
Playing toss: Aroldis Chapman played catch with a dancer from the Cincinnati Ballet, a fellow Cuban named Cervilio Miguel Amador, on the field at Great American Ball Park before Friday’s game.
Some reporters joked whether the tosses should factor into his pitch count. Chapman actually spent more time dancing around trying to catch the dancer’s wild pitches.
The dancer appeared to be practicing for a special first pitch. He performed several spins in the air before throwing to Chapman. He’s throwing out the first pitch Sunday, which is Cincinnati Ballet Day at the stadium.
Cingrani update: Tony Cingrani’s name was still written on the dry-erase board, where the upcoming starting pitchers are listed, in Baker’s office as of Friday afternoon.
Baker said he may not know until today whether Cingrani will be able to pitch Sunday. Cingrani left Tuesday’s game against the Diamondbacks in the fourth inning with back pain.