CINCINNATI -- Zack Cozart's return to the starting lineup didn't last very long, as the Reds' shortstop took a spot on the bench for Saturday's game against the Cubs. But it was all part of the plan for Cincinnati, which doesn't want to rush Cozart back and risk re-injury.Cozart just
CINCINNATI -- Zack Cozart's return to the starting lineup didn't last very long, as the Reds' shortstop took a spot on the bench for Saturday's game against the Cubs. But it was all part of the plan for Cincinnati, which doesn't want to rush Cozart back and risk re-injury.
Cozart just came back from the disabled list Friday after sitting out 11 games with a strained right quad. He had been dealing with and playing through the injury for six weeks prior to that. In his first game back, Cozart went 2-for-4 against Chicago.
"We've kind of written up a schedule," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "[Head athletic trainer] Steve Baumann along with our medical staff, Dr. [Timothy] Kremchek, speaking with Zack myself and knowing that Zack is much better, but not at 100 percent, they all felt collectively that reintegrating him at a slower pace back to regular duty was a responsible thing to do to try to get him as close to 100 percent as we can as we get into and out of the All-Star break."
Price said Cozart will have a handful of days off between now and the break. And while he obviously wants to play, Cozart recognizes that this is the right way to go in terms of his recovery.
Another factor in easing Cozart back is the All-Star Game, in which Cozart has an excellent shot of playing on July 11 in Miami. It would be the shortstop's first time in the Midsummer Classic, and he said it's been on his mind since he got injured.
"I'm having a pretty good year and I've never been an All-Star," said Cozart, who led National League shortstops in All-Star votes in the final ballot update. "I don't want an injury to cost me from doing that. That was a very small part of the decision to go on the DL, too, so it doesn't hinder me for that and long-term. That's not necessarily why we did this schedule coming up. It's because I had 13 days off, and we don't want to all of a sudden play 12 straight or whatever. But that All-Star Game would be pretty cool and important."
• The Reds officially called up starter Jackson Stephens from Triple-A Louisville to make his Major League debut Saturday, and in a corresponding move, they sent reliever Ariel Hernandez down to the Bats. While his stay in Cincinnati was short, Hernandez impressed Price and several others.
"I don't think there's any question that Ariel will be back here, my guess would be before September," Price said. "I think he's a big leaguer. I think there's big, big days ahead of him at the big league level. So we're all disappointed to see him go, but also know it's a part of where we are with our roster at this point."
Jeremy Vernon is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati.