A Reds offense sporting a .269 on-base percentage since the All-Star break — the worst mark in the majors — got a boost Tuesday and Wednesday from an unlikely source.
Kristopher Negron, who hit .200 in his first 13 appearances with the Reds, collected five hits and four RBIs in nine at-bats in two victories over the Indians and found himself in the starting lineup again Thursday. That’s why the media surrounded him in the dugout before the game.
This late in the season, with tonight’s series opener against the Marlins being one of 47 games remaining, almost everything has been written about to death. Negron, a 28-year-old infielder, is a new story. He has 3,250 at-bats in the minors and 43 in the majors, but he could play a big part down the stretch for a team that needs every bit of offensive help it can get.
Negron hit a three-run home run July 13 against the Pirates in his second appearance after being called up from Louisville. He’s now hitting .282 with three home runs and eight RBIs in 39 at-bats.
“He’s a guy that seized the opportunity,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “The one thing that really stands out about Kris is he came into spring training ready to go out there — not necessarily to win a job, though I’m sure that was his intent, but to really leave an impression on the staff.”
Negron hit .302 in 43 at-bats with the Reds in spring training. This followed a 2013 season in which he hit .225 in 113 games with Louisville. His lack of success last season had much to do with the knee brace he wore all season after suffering a torn ACL and medial meniscus in his right knee with Louisville on July 5, 2012.
“I was kind of worried about it just because I’ve never been hurt in my life,” Negron said. “I was thinking about it every once in a while. It had its days when it didn’t feel so good, and some days it felt great.”
Negron played winter ball in Puerto Rico after last season without the knee brace.
“That kind of helped me out mentally,” Negron said. “When I came to spring training, I was a step ahead of everybody in terms of seeing live pitching. I felt healthy, felt great and just rode it through spring training.”