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Herrera part of Reds' mix & match OF strategy

Riggleman discusses plans for injury-ravaged outfield, future of six-man rotation
MLB.com @m_sheldon

NEW YORK -- The Reds once had too many outfielders to fit into a daily lineup and now interim manager Jim Riggleman is being forced to improvise because of attrition. What was once a four-man rotation of Billy Hamilton, Scott Schebler, Adam Duvall and Jesse Winker now has just Hamilton.

Duvall was traded to the Braves on July 30, while Schebler is on the disabled list with a right shoulder injury and Winker is out for the season after he had right shoulder surgery last week. Riggleman wants to use backup infielder Dilson Herrera in right field. Other than three innings in left field vs. the Indians on July 11, Herrera has never played in the outfield professionally.

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NEW YORK -- The Reds once had too many outfielders to fit into a daily lineup and now interim manager Jim Riggleman is being forced to improvise because of attrition. What was once a four-man rotation of Billy Hamilton, Scott Schebler, Adam Duvall and Jesse Winker now has just Hamilton.

Duvall was traded to the Braves on July 30, while Schebler is on the disabled list with a right shoulder injury and Winker is out for the season after he had right shoulder surgery last week. Riggleman wants to use backup infielder Dilson Herrera in right field. Other than three innings in left field vs. the Indians on July 11, Herrera has never played in the outfield professionally.

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"I want to get Herrera as much work as we can taking balls out there during batting practice," Riggleman said on Monday. "We're trying to find a right-handed complement to Mason [Williams]."

The Reds' 6-4 loss to the Mets on Monday at Citi Field was the seventh start for Williams in right field since he was called up on July 26. While he and Preston Tucker -- who was acquired in the Duvall trade -- both bat left-handed, Brandon Dixon and Phillip Ervin are right-handed hitters. Riggleman is going to mix and match, but not necessarily use a straight platoon.

"The other day we played Ervin against the right-hander," Riggleman said. "Today, Tucker's playing against the right-hander. I'm trying to work Herrera in there a little bit, too."

Video: PHI@CIN: Williams hits 3-run HR for 1st hit as a Red

Herrera, who is mainly a second baseman, is blocked by All-Star Scooter Gennett. His only chance to get in the lineup are the rare days that Gennett is given off. Herrera has liked his early exposure to the outfield thus far.

"I never played there before, but this is an opportunity to work there and take some fly balls. I have to help the team, however," Herrera said.

Herrera, who was acquired from the Mets for Jay Bruce on Aug. 1, 2016, has been plagued by right shoulder injuries since his arrival and had surgery a year ago. He felt his arm could handle throwing from right field.

"My shoulder is really nice right now. I'm healthy," Herrera said. "I think I can play everywhere right now. I feel great."

Schebler, who had his rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville stopped on Friday because of recurring soreness in his shoulder, does not have a timetable for a return. He sprained the AC joint during a crash into the fence on July 14 at St. Louis.

Video: CIN@STL: Schebler gets injured on a catch at the wall

"What I don't want to do is be making comments that he interprets as 'hurry up and coming back. Come back while you're hurt.' I don't want that to happen," Riggleman said. "It's going to be between him and the trainers when his arm feels good enough."

Wednesday's starter TBA
The Reds have yet to name a starting pitcher for Wednesday's series finale vs. the Mets. The nod previously belonged to Tyler Mahle, who was optioned to Louisville on Friday. That reduced the rotation back from six starters to five, but a doubleheader on Saturday at Washington created the opening.

"We're still talking about that," Riggleman said. "[General manager Nick Krall] will be in here later and we'll talk about that."

Keury Mella was the primary contender to get the start, but he was used for two innings during Monday's loss to the Mets. Robert Stephenson, who has a 2.87 ERA in 20 starts for Louisville, is scheduled to pitch Wednesday vs. Pawtucket. Stephenson allowed one hit with three walks and 13 strikeouts over six scoreless innings for a win on Friday.

The Reds have had a six-man rotation for almost two weeks, and Riggleman had maintained it was temporary until the club figured out the situation with Matt Harvey. Now that Harvey hasn't been traded, and even though Mahle was sent down, staying with six starters hasn't been ruled out.

"The core of starters wanted to go back to five," Riggleman said. "But you know this is the kind of stuff that happens when you are where we are in the standings. If you get an opportunity to look at some other people, you do it. But I know our guys like a five-man rotation, that's for sure."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Dilson Herrera