Candelario credits trainers after 2nd multi-HR game this month

June 22nd, 2024

CINCINNATI -- Not even a knee injury has cooled 's scorching month of June for the Reds. But this week, especially, Candelario felt the club's medical staff deserved credit with an assist.

Mixed in with batting and infield practice has been heating pads and electro-therapy to treat tendinitis in the back of the Candelario's right knee. It enabled him to play and come up with a pair of solo home runs during Cincinnati's 5-2 victory over the Red Sox on Friday in their three-game series opener at Great American Ball Park.

“The trainers are doing a really good job putting me in the lineup," Candelario said. "They’re putting me in a good position to help my team win. That’s what I came here for, to be in the lineup every day -- no matter what.”

This has been some month for Candelario, who joined the Reds as a free agent in December on a three-year, $45 million contract. In 18 June games, he's batting .347 with a 1.087 OPS, eight homers and 17 RBIs.

On April 28, Candelario was batting only .159 with two homers. He's raised his overall average nearly 100 points since, to .255 with a team-leading 14 homers.

“He started off not as good, just like me," said second baseman Jonathan India, who hit a second-inning solo homer to left field. "The momentum he has right now is incredible. It’s special to watch. He’s taking over right now. He works very hard too, so he deserves this all. He’s not stopping any time soon.”

Candelario's knee issue forced him out of Tuesday's game at Pittsburgh and limited him to a pinch-hitting at-bat vs. the Pirates on Wednesday.

On Friday, manager David Bell used Candelario -- a corner infielder -- as his designated hitter.

“It makes it a little tough on me, because they all want to play so bad," Bell said. "Every single guy wants to play no matter what. We have to be a little extra smart to make sure we don’t put them in situations to get hurt worse, because it’s a long season.”

In the bottom of the first inning against Kutter Crawford, Candelario slugged a two-out homer to right field to give Cincinnati a 1-0 first-inning lead.

Reds starter Andrew Abbott gave up Connor Wong's leadoff homer in the second inning and Crawford surrendered another solo homer to India in the bottom of the second. Jarren Duran's one-out homer in the third made it a 2-2 game.

Opening the bottom of the third, Candelario lifted a high first-pitch fastball from Crawford to right field -- giving him two multi-homer games this month, and the Reds the lead for good.

"It’s kind of a punch in the mouth," Crawford said. "Tried getting ahead, first pitch and he jumped all over it, didn’t miss it and put a good swing on it."

“We all knew he was capable of it, so there was no doubt it was going to happen," Abbott said of Candelario. "It was just, ‘When is it going to happen?’ He’s hot. He’s a beast. He comes to the field every day and does what he needs to do to show up and be ready to play for the team. That’s all you can ask. Hopefully it continues and he has more big clutch moments for us.”

Not since Joey Votto in September 2021 has a Reds batter enjoyed two multi-homer games in one month.

“I want to put myself in a good position to swing at mistakes in the strike zone. That’s what I’m doing right now," Candelario said.

Abbott delivered 5 2/3 innings with two earned runs, four hits and one walk with a season-high 10 K's. In 15 starts, he is 6-6 with a 3.40 ERA.

The Reds added two more runs in the bottom of the seventh when TJ Friedl's squeeze bunt scored Santiago Espinal and Luke Maile for the second run on reliever Cam Booser's error toss to the plate.

The Reds had come in having lost four of their last five games while scoring just eight runs. All of the losses at Milwaukee and Pittsburgh were by three runs or less, including a pair by one run. They needed the Candelario boost mixed with the small ball.

“It was a tough road [trip]," India said. "We hit the ball hard, too, in Milwaukee. Pittsburgh wasn’t that great but we played them well. The offense has been pretty solid the last month. We’re getting better every game.”