Garrett back from suspension and 'ready to go'

August 21st, 2019

CINCINNATI -- Reds lefty reliever was a happy pitcher on Tuesday. His eight-game suspension was completed, and he was back on the active roster as his club faced the Padres.

Garrett was suspended by Major League Baseball for his part in a bench-clearing brawl on July 30 vs. the Pirates, and he appealed before serving his punishment. He was able to be with the team for pregame workouts but had to leave before the games.

“I came to the field eight days and I was useless,” Garrett said. “It’s very tough to watch my team compete without me. I love being here. I love being around these guys. I love going to battle with them every single day. We’re still in it. I always say we can run off 10 straight and be good. It’s a crucial time for us. Me being gone the eight games is crucial time for us as well, but I’m back now and I’m ready to go.”

While Garrett was out, the Reds posted a 2-6 record while playing with a 24-man roster. In his 52 appearances before the suspension, he was 4-1 with a 2.74 ERA. Not only is he Cincinnati’s lone left-hander in the bullpen, he’s a big part of the late-inning plans for high-leverage situations.

“We’ve used him in big spots. He’s been an important pitcher for us and he’s responded by pitching well,” Reds manager David Bell said. “Athletic, great arm and there’s no reason he can’t continue to get better and better. He’s really important for us and our team in many ways. It’s great to have him back. It’s probably on levels we can’t even understand fully how much it impacted us not having him.”

Garrett didn’t let his arm collect rust during the downtime.

“I just did my normal bullpens game-like, throwing as hard as I can like always just to stay fresh,” he said. “I feel like sometimes if you’re too fresh, I don’t feel as good. I was trying to be on the same routine that I’ve been throughout the whole season.”

During the Reds' 3-2 victory on Tuesday, Garrett had a rocky return to the mound in the eighth inning when he faced two batters and walked both of them on a combined nine pitches. Michael Lorenzen took over and preserved the lead, with an unearned run charged to Garrett after Jose Iglesias’ throwing error.

“Amir, it’s nice to get him back out there. He wasn’t sharp, but it’s nice to be able to have that happen without it costing us,” Bell said. “Michael coming in and being able to get out of it, hopefully we have Amir tomorrow and he got that one out of the way. We know he’ll be better next time out.”

Iglesias big with two strikes

When Reds shortstop extended his hitting streak to 14 games on Monday, it came via a first-inning single on a 2-2 pitch from Eric Lauer. Entering Tuesday, Iglesias was the best two-strike hitter in the National League with a .273 average in those situations. That’s also good for fifth-best in the Major Leagues.

Bell considers Iglesias’ two-strike approach a bit of a throwback.

“He gets to two strikes and it’s almost like the pitcher can’t throw him a ball,” Bell said. “He has such great hand-eye coordination that he just continues to foul it off until he gets one that he can put into play. You don’t see that a lot. You maybe saw that in the past. He can get to a fastball and he stays on the ball. It’s almost like they can’t throw a pitch that he won’t be able to at least make contact with and foul it off. He gives a tough at-bat.”

Winker out again

Reds outfielder Jesse Winker was not available off the bench during Monday’s game as he continues to deal with upper back spasms. Winker did not start for the sixth straight game on Tuesday, and his status was yet to be determined. Since Thursday, he’s been limited to one pinch-hit appearance on Sunday vs. the Cardinals.