- By Gary Schatz Contributing Writer
Dilson Herrera has three weeks to show the Reds’ coaching staff what he can do. Without minor-league options the Reds have a tough decision to make.
Herrera came to the Reds from the New York Mets at the 2016 trade deadline for outfielder Jay Bruce. But since he came to the Reds’ organization, Herrera’s throwing shoulder has not cooperated with his efforts to win a job on the big league club.
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Shoulder surgery to relieve an impingement in his right shoulder ended Herrera’s 2017 season in July.
“My shoulder is feeling great,” Herrera said. “I’m still working on my recovery. I’ve been throwing good. I will be fine.”
The 24-year old from Cartagena, Columbia spent spring training with the Reds last season but couldn’t get on the field to play defense. He got 26 at-bats as a designated hitter and pinch hitter.
At Triple-A Louisville, Herrera played 68 games, hitting .264 with seven home runs and 42 RBIs before the shoulder injury.
“I was feeling great then one day in Louisville, I started feeling the pain again,” Herrera said. “There was no incident that caused pain. It was just over time. I stopped playing because I thought something wasn’t good. That’s when I had surgery.”
“I’m working with the trainers on a throwing program,” Herrera added. “I feel my mind is right. I’m still positive because I know I’m going to be good soon.”
Herrera is out of options. The Reds’ can’t send him to the minor leagues unless he clears waivers. He could elect free agency, although there are a glut of free agents who are healthy and haven’t been signed.
The Reds still have three weeks left on a ticking clock in determine Herrera’s role. Second base is the one position that is not a lock for anyone.
Zach Cozart left shortstop open when he signed with the Los Angeles Angels. Jose Peraza, who started the season as the team’s second baseman in 2017, is moving to shortstop. Scooter Gennett, who had a breakout season with 27 home runs and supplanted Peraza at second, has the inside track at second. Shed Long also is making a bid for the job but is considered a long shot.
“I haven’t seen enough of what Dilson can do, not even close,” Price said. “Not being able to defend, I think he’s trying to maximize his at bats. Like a lot of these guys, he’s putting a little too much pressure on himself. He has the opportunity. Everybody wants to impress but we all need to see him play defense. We are going to go as far as we can to get him healthy.”
Herrera has played in six games, three defensively. He is 1-for-11 at the plate. In the field he has three total chances with two assists and participated in one double play.
“We want to see what he can do when he gets regular at-bats. During his time in the organization we haven’t seen it in big league camp,” Price said. “It’s tough because we really like this kid a lot. We know he can hit. It’s a tough situation. We’d like to get him on the field to be able to help him defensively and evaluate him as a defensive player.”