From Bryan Price’s point of view, perhaps nobody deserved to win the Triple-A International League batting title more than Hernan Iribarren.
The 32-year-old utility player was promoted by the Reds from the Louisville Bats on Sunday while he still was leading the IL in hitting with a .327 batting average. The 15-year veteran of professional baseball clinched the title Monday when his closest pursuers failed to catch up.
“It’s huge, in large part because when you get to be 31 or 32 years old and you’ve spent quite a few years in the minor leagues, your mind can drift,” Price said before Tuesday’s game. “You start thinking, ‘What’s in it for me? What am I doing here?’ But he’s been wonderful ever since he’s been in the system. All of the coaches have raved about him and his professionalism. So you’ve got a left-handed hitter and a smart player who plays a lot of positions and makes other players better — a guy like that has value.”
Iribarren returned to the majors for the first time since 2009, the second of two straight seasons in which he played in 12 games for the Milwaukee Brewers.
“I am not the same player or person that I was in 2008 and 2009,” said the Venezuelan, who played every position except catcher for the Bats this season, even making four appearances as a relief pitcher. “I’m more mature now. I didn’t work hard then. I thank God for this opportunity. I had a torn (anterior cruciate ligament) in my left knee in 2011. I thought my career was over. It’s been a long, hard ride.”
Mixed feelings: As he does with many topics, Price has conflicting emotions when it comes to the rule that allows teams to expand active rosters from 25 to 40 players in September. Does he like it?
“As a manager, yes, because you never have to worry about extra innings or using your backup catcher or blowing up your bullpen,” he said. “No because managing against it is not fun. The Mets called up six guys today and we called up three. The reconnaissance factor becomes a problem.”
He’s less wishy-washy when it comes to how much the roster expansion changes the game.
“No doubt,” he said. “Without question. It gives you an endless ability to make moves. I don’t like the game as much in September as I do April through August.”
Speaking of …: The Reds recalled infielder-outfielder Tony Renda, outfielder Steve Selsky and right-handed pitcher Josh Smith from Louisville before Tuesday’s game.
This is Selsky’s third stint with the Reds and the second for Renda and Smith. Selsky is 3-for-10 in eight games. Renda hit .222 in 16 August games Smith is 2-1 with a 5.19 earned-run average in 25 relief appearances.
Cuban pipeline: Cuban right-handed pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez was in the clubhouse before Tuesday’s game. Gutierrez, who turns 21 on September 18, was in town for a physical and is expected to sign a contract with Cincinnati on Wednesday.
Lorenzen honored: Reds pitcher Michael Lorenzen is scheduled to be honored in pregame ceremonies Wednesday as the team’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, which is given annually to the player judged to best represent the game “through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field,” according to a press release.
Lorenzen had his number changed to “21” this season because of his high regard for the Pirates Hall of Fame outfielder, who died in a place crash on New Year’s Eve in 1972 while trying to deliver supplies to hurricane-ravaged Nicaragua.
Next: Right-handed Anthony DeSclafani (8-2) is Cincinnati’s scheduled starter as the Reds wrap up their six-game home stand with a 12:35 p.m. game against the Mets.