Reds hope return of Moustakas, Senzel help them ‘right the ship'

Reds manager David Bell interview (July 29)

Two starters return to lineup after missing three games

Second basemam Mike Moustakas and center fielder Nick Senzel returned to the Cincinnati Reds lineup on Wednesday for the third game of a four-game series against the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park.

Senzel announced his return with a short post on Twitter. He wrote simply, “Back” and used the hashtag “WeirdTimes.”

Moustakas and Senzel woke up feeling sick Sunday and had not played since the second game of the season Saturday. Right fielder Nick Castellanos revealed after the game Tuesday both players tested negative for COVID-19.

Moustakas went 4-for-8 with four RBIs, all on Opening Day, in the first two games, while Senzel was hitless in seven at-bats.

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“They’re two regular guys for us,” catcher Curt Casali said. “Not putting Nick aside, but especially Mike, he was a big signing for us this offseason. He’s a difference-maker in the clubhouse. He’s an energy giver. When he’s around, people feel better. He was missed in the dugout, and he will be greatly welcomed back. Nick offers a steady presence in center. He’s a freak athlete who’s a great player. We need those two guys in our lineup every day if we expect to compete. We didn’t do a great job of holding down the fort when they were gone. Now I’m expecting the two of them will take it upon themselves to right the ship a little bit and get us going in the right direction.”

Roster move: While Senzel never went on the injured list, Moustakas did, and when he came off the injured list, the Reds made room by optioning catcher Tyler Stephenson, who will rejoin the players practicing at Prasco Park in Mason.

First start: Tucker Barnhart returned from the paternity list Tuesday and earned his start Wednesday. Casali started the first five games of the season at catcher and hit two home runs.

“I think my body feels as good as I would expect it to feel,” Casali said. “Five in a row is the most I’ve ever caught — minor leagues or major leagues. It’s kind of cool to think about. But I’ll be the first one to tell you I’m really excited to see Tucker back. I even missed him being in our little catcher’s corner over there, just talking and doing scouting reports and joking around.”

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Struggles continue: The Reds suffered their fourth straight loss Tuesday, falling 8-5 to the Cubs in the second game of the series. The Cubs scored in each of the last six innings. Five of the six Reds pitchers to appear in the game gave up at least one run.

Reliever Michael Lorenzen made his third appearance of the season, allowing two earned runs in one inning. He has allowed one home run each of his appearance.

Looking ahead: The Reds and Cubs finish the series at 6:10 p.m. Thursday. Luis Castillo will make his second start of the season for the Reds, while Yu Darvish will start for the Cubs.

The Reds start their first road series of the season Friday in Detroit.