CINCINNATI -- Reds left fielder Jesse Winker’s much-anticipated return from the injured list lasted only one day. In a big blow for Winker and Cincinnati, he was placed back on the 10-day IL on Saturday with the same intercostal strain that kept him out for a month.
During the eighth inning of Friday’s 3-1 win over the Dodgers, Winker was hit on the elbow and ribs by a Brusdar Graterol pitch and was lifted for a pinch-runner. But during his swing on the first pitch, it was apparent that Winker -- who was activated from the IL before the game -- aggravated the intercostal strain that first put him on the IL on Aug. 16.
“After the first pitch, I heard a few of the coaches say, ‘Did you see that, did you see that?’ I got up and I didn’t see it,” Reds manager David Bell said. “Otherwise, I would have probably ran out there. I went up to the steps and was yelling at Wink at the top. He didn’t turn around, so I said, ‘I guess he’s OK.’ Then the next pitch hit him. At least a few of our staff saw it. I missed it; I still didn’t even look at it, I didn’t want to look at it on video. Talking to him after the game, he definitely felt something on that pitch.”
Winker had only two games and five at-bats on his rehab assignment with Louisville before determining that he could play -- even at less than full strength.
“I don’t think, realistically, feeling 100 percent was on the table,” Winker said Friday. “I just wanted to get it good enough to just be able to come back and help. That’s all I wanted to do.”
Winker, 28, is slashing .305/.394/.556 with 24 home runs and 71 RBIs in 110 games this season. The timing of the setback is devastating for the Reds as they try to stay in the race for the second National League Wild Card spot.
“Of course, we talked yesterday about how big of a part of our team Wink is,” Bell said. “That’s still the case now. We will miss him for sure. He’s going to be with us and around the rest of the way, and hopefully, he’ll be back sooner rather than later. There’s really no time to think that way. We have too much to be thankful for and too much reason to be positive [about]; too much to play for.”
Akiyama was injured sometime during Thursday’s game at Pittsburgh and missed a chance to start Friday because of his injury. It is not the same hamstring that caused him to miss the first 29 games of the season. Bell could not speculate for how long Akiyama would be out.
“He came out of the game for an unrelated reason, just a game strategy move,” Bell said. “I found out after the game he felt a little something during the game. He finished, it didn’t force him out of the game. But then the next day, it was more sore. Today, it was even more sore. We’ll have to see 10 days from now.”
It’s been a disappointing year for Akiyama, Cincinnati’s first Japanese Major League player. He is slashing .204/.282/.253 in 88 games with no homers and 12 RBIs while playing sparingly.
With both outfielders out, the Reds had catcher Tyler Stephenson doing extra work in left field -- something he has done for over a month. Shortstop Jose Barrero has also gotten looks in center field. But the only true center fielder on the roster with Major League experience is Delino DeShields.
That prompted the first-time promotion of Friedl, who was slashing .264/.357/.422 with 12 homers and 36 RBIs in 113 games for Louisville. The 26-year-old made 68 starts in center field this season.
Changes in player development
The Reds parted ways with Minor League pitching coordinator Kyle Boddy and hitting coordinator C.J. Gillman on Friday, both men revealed on social media.
Boddy, known for his Driveline Baseball performance center, was a high-profile hire by Cincinnati after the 2019 season.
The departures, which were not announced by the Reds, appear to signal at least a partial change from the heavy leaning on analytics that they’ve had the past two seasons in player development.
“The Reds are moving in a different direction in many areas of player development, and I certainly wish them the best,” Boddy wrote in his own press release. “It no longer felt like the best fit for either party.”