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Reds have contingency plan for short bench

With Phillips out and club carrying 8 relievers, pitchers Leake, Lorenzen prepared to pinch-hit

CINCINNATI -- With second baseman Brandon Phillips being out on Monday vs. the Twins with injuries to both of his hands, Reds manager Bryan Price's short bench was even shorter during the 11-7 victory.

Phillips took batting practice on Tuesday, but he was out of the lineup again vs. Minnesota. The 25-man roster has eight relievers, which means Price has only three fully healthy bench players in Skip Schumaker, Jason Bourgeois and Brayan Pena, who was the lone backup at catcher.

On Monday, even as Mike Leake was lifted after four innings due to struggles, Price let him bat for himself in the bottom of the fourth. He could not afford to waste a bench player that early.

"Those are just decisions you make where you have a short start," Price said on Tuesday afternoon. "You have to anticipate and look at what your options are in those late-game situations. The good news is having a couple guys on the bench that are pitchers who typically swing the bat."

On Tuesday, that was Leake and rookie starting pitcher Michael Lorenzen.

"It's better than having somebody that can't handle the bat at all," Price said. "You play the cards that you're dealt. If we play with a three-man healthy bench or a six-man bullpen or a two-man bullpen or whatever it is, then we'll make the most with what we have to work with on any given day."

On the days they are not starting, Leake and Lorenzen know to be prepared to hit. Both have speed, so they are capable of pinch-running. On May 12 vs. the Braves, Lorenzen scored a walk-off winning run when he scored from first base in the bottom of the ninth.

Video: [email protected]: Mesoraco drills a walk-off double to left

"What they do differently is they hit with the other pitchers on the field, but they'll also go in there and hit in the cage during the game," Price said. "Typically like what the pinch-hitters do ... they're in the cage taking swings and staying ready."

Because the Reds have several rookie pitchers, including some with innings caps, Price believes the extra depth in the bullpen is required.

"I feel better with an eight-man bullpen and a three-man healthy bench than I would with a seven-man bullpen and four-man healthy bench," he said. "Between the rain challenges we've had this year, some of the short starts we've run into every now and again, I feel a lot better knowing we have at least somebody down there that's well rested in the bullpen."

Worth noting

• In his first rehabilitation assignment start on Tuesday for Triple-A Louisville, Raisel Iglesias threw 43 pitches over three scoreless innings with one hit allowed, one walk and three strikeouts. Iglesias has been on the disabled list since June 5 because of a strained left oblique muscle.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.
Read More: Cincinnati Reds, Brandon Phillips, Jason Bourgeois, Mike Leake, Michael Lorenzen, Anthony Shumaker