Notes: Davidson activated; Bauer set for Sat.

July 31st, 2020

Reds reserve infielder Matt Davidson, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday and was placed on the injured list, was activated Friday and rejoined the club in Detroit for the start of its three-game series vs. the Tigers.

Davidson was not permitted to fly with the team for its road trip Thursday night and drove to Michigan from Cincinnati once he was cleared by MLB. He made the 30-man roster at the end of Summer Camp.

In the Opening Day lineup as the designated hitter vs. the Tigers, Davidson was 0-for-2.

“It’s great to have him back to see his face,” Reds manager David Bell said. “It was tough for him to be out for a week away from this team. He’d become a big part of the team already. Opening Night was such a great night and then to have that taken away from you was tough for him. It’s great to have the whole group back together.”

As announced on Thursday, catcher Tyler Stephenson was brought along to be on the taxi squad. The rules allow for three taxi squad players, but the Reds elected not to add two more.

“Part of the reason is it’s such a closer trip,” Bell said. “For example, Matt made it up here today, early in the day. There will be times I imagine that we’ll max that out and bring three with us. … If we don’t feel like it’s totally necessary, it’s just limiting the numbers in the clubhouse the best we can.”

New rule for doubleheaders
A makeup date for Thursday’s rained out game vs. the Cubs has yet to be announced. But if it’s played as part of a doubleheader, the rules will be different. MLB and the MLB Players Association jointly announced that effective Saturday, all doubleheaders will be seven-inning games. The recent frequency of schedule changes, doubleheaders and its effects on rosters and player health and safety were all factors in the announcement.

“It puts people with really solid rotations in a really good spot, but you could also argue that people who have really strong bullpens have less innings to cover,” Reds starting pitcher Trevor Bauer said. “Your starter can only go three innings now and you can still cover it. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out and the different strategies that teams use.”

The change is in effect for 2020 only. Bauer noted that most players are used to playing seven-inning games for doubleheaders in the Minor Leagues.

“It’s like all the new rules, you find ways to use it to your advantage,” Bell said. “I’ve seen some real pitching gems in those seven-inning doubleheaders. Guys can smell that complete game. It’s a lot more doable in seven innings. It will be a lot of fun to watch our starters attack that.”

Bauer ready for Tigers adjustments
Bauer will face the Tigers on Saturday, the same team he pitched against on Sunday in his first start at Great American Ball Park. He received a no-decision in the Reds' 3-2 loss, but allowed one earned run and two hits over 6 1/3 innings with one walk and 13 strikeouts. Bauer has faced teams twice in a row before, including Detroit last season, and he will be watching for hitters’ adjustments.

“It'll be fun. I enjoy the challenge of it, because it's a chess match,” Bauer said. “It's more of a mental game. Obviously my stuff is going to be what it's going to be, that's all taken care of with this week's prep. Now it's the mental game of it, that's the thing I'm most excited for.”

Bauer threw 105 pitches in the last game and felt fine.

“Just a normal cycle for me,” Bauer said. “I feel great, my body's in a good spot. I had a good bullpen, I felt great yesterday, I feel great today.”

Game time on Saturday was moved from 6:10 p.m. ET to 1:10 p.m., because of inclement weather in the forecast.

Bullpen bright spots
Reds relievers entered Friday ranked 29th out of 30 clubs with a 7.71 ERA through six games and led the Majors with nine home runs allowed. However, lefty Amir Garrett has retired nine of 11 batters he faced with one homer and one walk allowed.

“You’ve got to have short-term memory,” Garrett said of the bullpen’s struggles. “A lot of these guys that are struggling or that have given up runs, they’ve been doing this for a while. Their track record speaks for itself, so we don’t really worry about the results right now.”

Right-hander Lucas Sims has pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings with one hit, one walk and five strikeouts. That includes 1 1/3 innings on Wednesday vs. the Cubs.

“I had a competitive environment during the downtime,” Sims said on Friday. “I was really focusing on being on the attack, trying to get to two strikes as fast as possible and execute my pitches.”