The one constant on a Reds team plagued by inconsistency in 2013 has been injuries.
From Opening Day, when Ryan Ludwick slid headfirst into third and changed the lineup for four-plus months, to the final series of the season, when manager Dusty Baker surprised everyone by revealing Johnny Cueto would start today’s National League wild card playoff game because Mat Latos’ arm was “barking,” this team has been held together by Band-Aids and athletic tape.
The players should have posed for the annual team photo in an ice bath or crowded together on the table where the team’s massage therapist, Springfield’s Mickey McNeil, works her magic.
“We’ve had injuries all year,” said General Manager Walt Jocketty on Monday before the Reds worked out at PNC Park. “Most of these are still manageable, where they’re not going to be disabled or anything. I’m sure (the Pirates) have some issues going on over there, and every team in the playoffs will have them. It’s such a long season. They get beat up so much over the year. It’s tough on their bodies.”
The most pressing concern Monday was the health of second baseman Brandon Phillips, who fouled a ball off his shin Saturday. He looked fine taking infield Monday, and he will start tonight.
“It feels good enough to play,” Phillips said.
Latos had no comment about his injury situation. Jocketty said he expects Latos would be ready for the next round against the Cardinals if the Reds win tonight.
Playoff roster: Jocketty said the Reds would wait until the 10 a.m. deadline today to announce their roster for the wild card game. If the Reds advance to the division series on Thursday, they could change their roster for that round.
What everyone wants to know is if rookie outfielder Billy Hamilton will make the roster. As of Monday night, after the Reds worked out at PNC Park, even Hamilton didn’t know.
“It’s something I’ve worked hard for,” he said. “I’ve shown I want to be there. It’s not my decision. I can only go play and do whatever I can. Hopefully, they’ll tell me soon, and I can relax a little bit. Right now I’m worried about whether I’m going to be on the roster or not.”
Always on: Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo became the first set of Reds teammates to reach base at least 300 times each in a season. Votto set a Reds record by reaching 316 times. Choo was just behind him (300).
Right fielder Jay Bruce knows that’s a big reason he finished fourth in baseball with a career-high 109 RBIs.
“In my opinion, if you don’t drive in 100 runs hitting fourth or fifth with the Cincinnati Reds, you’re not going to do it anywhere,” Bruce said. “With Joey and (Choo), those guys are getting on base 43 and 42 percent of the time. That’s something that’s unheard of for a pair of teammates.”
History lesson: This is the first postseason game between the Pirates and Reds since Game 6 of the 1990 NL Championship Series, when the Reds won 2-1 at Riverfront Stadium. It’s the Reds’ first postseason game in Pittsburgh since Game 5 of that series, when the Pirates won 3-2 at Three Rivers Stadium.