To make room on the 26-man roster for the additions, infielder Max Schrock was optioned to the alternate training site at Louisville, while lefty reliever Cionel Pérez was optioned to the taxi squad. For the first time this season, Cincinnati will have nine relievers on the club.
“We had it set up the way we did because we thought it was the best balance of position players and pitchers, but we just got into a situation where with the way the games have gone recently, we needed to adjust that,” said manager David Bell. “It’ll remain that way, and I would imagine at some point we’ll revert back to how it was.”
For Hendrix, the Reds' No. 21 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, this is his first big league callup. When he got to Cincinnati on Sunday, he was expecting to be added to the taxi squad for the road trip to St. Louis and Los Angeles.
But plans changed as the Reds' bullpen gave up 22 earned runs and 17 walks over just 13 1/3 innings in the last three games -- all losses -- to Arizona. Pérez had an 8.31 ERA and 1.62 WHIP in 10 games. Bell and general manager Nick Krall called Hendrix into the office before the team departed for the airport to inform him of the news.
“Emotions were high after that,” said Hendrix, a fifth-round pick out of Texas A&M University in 2016. “It’s a crazy feeling. I’m super excited to be a part of this good group of guys and staff. I can’t thank the coaching staff and front office enough for letting me become a Red.”
Hendrix, 26, spent 2020 at the club’s alternate site but impressed in Spring Training while showing velocity in the high 90s, accentuated by a strong breaking ball. In 2019, he was 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA in 16 games for Double-A Chattanooga, but missed much of that season with a right elbow strain.
“This year, I’ve worked really hard in the offseason to get back to where I was and stay healthy. It just clicked,” Hendrix said. “I didn’t expect it to be high 90s coming into Spring Training, but I worked hard and it got me there.”
Hembree, 32, is a veteran in his ninth season after time with the Giants, Red Sox and Phillies, having amassed a 3.90 ERA over 271 big league games. After being cut by Cleveland during Spring Training, he signed with the Reds near the end of camp.
“He has a good arm, the way he uses his pitches fits what we try to do and falls in line what we feel can lead to success,” Bell said. “He locates his fastball, and he’s not afraid to use it up. Use that to set up his other pitches.”
Cincinnati native Diehl joins taxi squad
There is a lengthy list of Cincinnati-area natives who have played for the Reds and a smaller group of those who attended Archbishop Moeller High School. Lefty pitcher Phillip Diehl hopes to join both groups soon. Diehl, who was acquired from the Rockies off waivers on April 14, joined the Reds’ taxi squad for the first time on the road trip.
“It was amazing, I was just finishing up throwing a bullpen in Arizona when I was left a voicemail on my phone that the Reds had picked me up and I was going home. It was sick,” Diehl said of being acquired by his hometown team.
Diehl, 26, grew up on the east side of Cincinnati in Pleasant Ridge and frequently attended Reds games. His first select baseball team coach was former Reds great George Foster. His parents and friends are eagerly awaiting to see him pitch at Great American Ball Park.
“Friends were very happy, they're already asking for tickets, I'm not even up, so it's like, 'I can't help you.' But, I mean, my phone was blowing up,” Diehl said. “Social media was blowing up. They're all very excited.”
There have been 14 Moeller graduates who have played in the Major Leagues, including Barry Larkin and Ken Griffey Jr. for the Reds. Another alum is Bell, who was thrilled when he learned that Diehl graduated from the same school.
“About the second thing he said -- he asked what year I graduated, and I said 2012, he was like, 'I'm a little bit before that.' We had a good laugh,” Diehl said.
“I know he’s happy to be here, I think he got a chance to stop in at home,” Bell said. “He’s excited to be a part of the Reds, he grew up a fan. It’s fun for me, that connection of Moeller, and having a hometown player on the Reds is always exciting. There’s something a little extra special here and it’ll be fun to see how much we can help him and get him back to the big leagues.”
Third baseman Mike Moustakas, who is on the 10-day injured list with a non-COVID illness, traveled with the club to St. Louis and will work out with the team.
Moustakas is eligible for activation on Tuesday, when the Reds are slated to play the Dodgers.
“Today is the best I’ve seen him,” Bell said. “From what he says, he feels great, and we can take the weekend to get him back into as much baseball activity as he needs and have him ready to go in L.A.”