Hoping to avoid any accidents that might increase the severity of his strained left oblique injury — such as, perhaps, lifting a suitcase — the Reds are leaving center fielder Billy Hamilton back home in Cincinnati while they travel to Pittsburgh for a four-game series that also constitutes their entire road trip.
“We just want him to rest,” manager Bryan Price said before Wednesday’s series finale against the New York Mets. “There’s still tenderness to it. Until he can pass all the tests without pain, he won’t do any baseball activities.”
Hamilton suffered his injury after almost imperceptibly checking a swing while batting left-handed during Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals. He lobbied to stay in but was overruled by Price with the support of first baseman Joey Votto and shortstop Zack Cozart.
After a Monday ultrasound test provided more information about the injury, Price said it looked like Hamilton might miss “5-7 days.”
Hamilton, who turns 26 on Friday, was hitting .260 at the time of his injury, but he’d hit .293 in 45 games since the All-Star break and also stolen 36 bases to take over the major-league lead with a career-high 58.
Finnegan’s future: Even though Brandon Finnegan has pitched exclusively as a starter this season, there were those who wondered if his future might not be in relief.
The left-hander, who pitched in relief for Kansas City before the Reds acquired him last season in the Johnny Cueto trade, seems to have laid those to rest. Finnegan, 23, is on track to make at least two more starts and will get that chance.
“If we can get him to 30 (starts), we’ll be at about 170-175 innings,” Price said. “He’d have accomplished more than we would have anticipated as we entered spring training as far as pitching well enough and competing well enough to hold a spot in the rotation and to get better as the season progresses. That’s what we hoped we would see, but didn’t know with his background in the big leagues as a relief pitcher. He’s answered a lot of questions here with this group.
“If he gets more pitch efficient, he’s going to be able to be a guy who looks like an innings type of a guy, because he competes well and he does a lot of good things to keep himself in the game.”
That was music to Finnegan’s ears.
“We’re kind of short on starters right now, so I’ll keep going until they tell me to stop,” he said. “I’m excited that they’re going to let me stay in the rotation to finish up the season or however long I’m still in it, but I still have a lot of work to do.”
Thank you: Before Wednesday’s game, the Reds honored director of minor league administration Lois Hudson, who is retiring after 29 years with the franchise. Hudson received the seventh Sheldon “Chief” Bender Award after the 2014 season for her “distinguished service and instrumental work in player development.” She started as a part-time secretary for scouting/player development in 1984.
Dotted line: The Reds made it official Wednesday, signing Cuban right-handed pitching prodigy Vladimir Gutierrez to a minor league contract. Gutierriez, who turns 21 on Sept. 18, joins in the system shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez, who signed with the Reds in July.
Next: Right-hander Dan Straily (11-7) is due to start on Thursday in the opener of the four-game series at Pittsburgh. Straily was able to overcome issuing a career-high seven walks in his last start, a 9-1 win over St. Louis on Saturday. He is scheduled to be opposed by right-hander Ivan Nova (11-7).
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