CINCINNATI — A weekend of perfect weather, a National League Central Division rival in town and an injury list that is now shrinking instead of growing would make Cincinnati Reds fans smile if they could forget the team’s record for a second.
The Reds (2-11) returned to Great American Ball Park on Friday after nine straight losses, the last seven on the west coast, to play the St. Louis Cardinals. They activated reliever Lucas Sims from the injured list before the game, optioning reliever Ryan Hendrix (8.10 ERA in five appearances) to Triple-A Louisville to make room on the roster.
The bullpen has been a relative bright spot (4.47 ERA) compared to the starting rotation (7.55 ERA, last in baseball) and offense (.177 average, last in baseball), and getting Sims back with 12 players still on the injured list is good news for a team desperate for some positive headlines.
“I‘m ready to rock,” Sims said. “I feel sharp. I feel strong. I’m ready to kind of just pick up where I left off towards the end of last season.”
Sims has been sidelined all season with back spasms. This will be his fourth full season with the Reds. He made the most appearances (47) of any returning reliever from 2021 when he was 5-3 with a 4.40 ERA. Only Amir Garrett, who was traded to the Kansas City Royals in March, made more appearances (63).
Sims didn’t know what kind of role he would have in this bullpen but was ready for the high-leverage moments he experienced last season. Seven relievers have made at least five relief appearances. Tony Santillan and Art Warren have the only saves.
“This is kind of like my opening day,” Sims said. “I still had a little bit of jitters coming to the ballpark.”
Sims made four rehab appearances for Triple-A Louisville. He allowed one run on two hits in four innings. The Reds started the season 2-11 in his absence.
“It’s a really long season,” Sims said. “I’ve been watching from afar, pulling (for them). I’ve been right there with them. We’ve got a lot of baseball left. There’s plenty of time for this team to turn around and get things going in the right direction and start winning some ballgames. We’ve got a resilient group of guys. We’ll keep fighting. We’ll keep fighting no matter what.”
More injury news: Luis Castillo will pitch for the Dayton Dragons on Sunday at Day Air Ballpark as he works his way back from a right shoulder strain.
“We’re excited to get him back out into game competition,” manager David Bell said. “We’ve very much looking forward to getting him back in our rotation. So that’s a big step, going to Dayton and probably getting close to 50 pitches. That puts him in a position where he’s going to be pretty close to coming back.”