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DeSclafani, Reds can't contain Bucs' bats

Casali adds a homer in the 7th but Cincinnati falls short
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Reds pitcher Anthony DeSclafani came away from Saturday's rain-filled start vs. the Pirates bruised up by a comebacker from Corey Dickerson and beat up by the long ball -- also because of Dickerson.

DeSclafani's tough start left the Reds knocked down again with a 6-2 loss, their third in a row going back to DeSclafani's previous start last Sunday before the All-Star break. The Pirates have won eight straight games.

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CINCINNATI -- Reds pitcher Anthony DeSclafani came away from Saturday's rain-filled start vs. the Pirates bruised up by a comebacker from Corey Dickerson and beat up by the long ball -- also because of Dickerson.

DeSclafani's tough start left the Reds knocked down again with a 6-2 loss, their third in a row going back to DeSclafani's previous start last Sunday before the All-Star break. The Pirates have won eight straight games.

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"The velocity looked good. Everything looked crisp," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said of DeSclafani. "But we just have to find a better way to get these Pittsburgh hitters out. Their left-handed hitters, whether we play them in this park or their park, they have really done damage against us."

DeSclafani, who closed his first half with a 3 1/3-inning, six-run loss vs. the Cardinals, gave up three earned runs and six hits -- including a pair of Dickerson solo home runs -- over 4 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out six.

The game opened with the lefty-hitting Dickerson scorching a comebacker that skipped hard off of DeSclafani's right foot. It had him limping around the mound while he was checked out by the trainer and Riggleman. He took a couple of warm-up pitches, and was able to continue. After the game, X-rays taken of the foot were negative.

"Got me good. It's just a contusion," DeSclafani said.

With two outs in the top of the third, Dickerson slugged a first-pitch curveball from DeSclafani to center field for his first homer. During a lengthy top of the fourth that opened with a Gregory Polanco double and a one-out walk, Josh Bell's RBI double to right field made it a 2-0 game. A 47-minute rain delay after the third out halted the game.

Video: PIT@CIN: Dickerson hits a pair of solo home runs

DeSclafani and Pirates starter Nick Kingham both kept loose and were able to resume pitching after the delay. However, DeSclafani opened the fifth with his first-pitch fastball to Dickerson being lifted to right field for another homer and a 3-0 deficit.

"The second at-bat, I'm trying to work on the curveball and pick spots to do it," Dickerson said. "Me and Curt Casali were on the same page. We thought he was going to take the first pitch. I was trying to throw a get-me-over. Obviously, he didn't take. The ball went a mile. The second one, I wanted to try to go in and change the look. I was going away a lot to him. He smoked it. It was on the corner, but it was in the sweet spot, down and in."

After DeSclafani struck out Starling Marte, Riggleman lifted his starter for lefty reliever Kyle Crockett.

"Jim told me I was going to have a short leash because I sat for an hour with the whole rain delay," DeSclafani said. "They wanted to be cautious of my arm and the fact I got hit in the first inning. It was precautionary, just body-wise. They were trying to be smart."

Opening the season on the disabled list because of a strained left oblique, DeSclafani lost his first start on June 5. Then he went 4-0 with a 4.04 ERA over six starts from June 10-July 9 before dropping the last two outings.

One concern is that DeSclafani has given up a large amount of homers in a short amount of time -- 14 over 48 1/3 innings this season. According to Statcast™, hitters are barreling 8.1 percent of batted balls off DeSclafani, which is well above his career mark of 5.8 percent.

"That's just not keeping guys off balance," DeSclafani said. "If I can keep the ball in the yard, I can give myself a better shot. It's just those solo home runs are kind of chipping away. If I can find a way to get the ball off the barrel, I can go deeper and put up a better line and do what I know I can do."

Reliever Michael Lorenzen gave up two runs in the sixth on Kingham's single through the drawn-in infield, which gave the Pirates a 5-0 lead.

Video: PIT@CIN: Gennett cuts down Bell at home plate

Toward the end of the first half, when the Reds were the hottest team in the National League, they were just 1 1/2 games behind the fourth-place Pirates in the standings as recently as July 11.

It just happens that the Pirates haven't lost a game since then. Two games into the second half, the Reds haven't resembled the team that gained momentum in the past two months.

"[The Pirates] pitched pretty good, and Pittsburgh was hot before the break," Riggleman said. "They came out hot now, and they're playing good baseball. We're playing fine. We just haven't quite kicked it in with the bats yet. I'm confident we will. The effort and intensity we get, the emotions we get, guys are irritated about losing some games here and not getting the hits."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Reds -- who went down in order on five pitches in the second inning and six pitches in the sixth -- finally got to Kingham in the bottom of the seventh. Casali hit a two-run homer to left field to make it a three-run game. The long ball, which bounced back onto the field, was reviewed by replay officials but quickly confirmed.

"The past two days, we've gotten behind. Anything I can do to boost a little bit the dugout," said Casali, who has two homers this season. "We were quiet for the most part today, but a couple of balls we hit, we hit right on the nose. Joey Votto hit one on the nose to center field. You're going to have days like that where it doesn't drop. Their pitcher did a nice job tonight of getting ahead."

Video: PIT@CIN: Casali lifts a 2-run homer, call stands

HE SAID IT
"It actually hit me twice. There are seam marks on my forearm, and it rolled up and hit my bicep. It doesn't feel too good, but I will be all right tomorrow." -- Casali, who was hit on the right arm by a 98-mph fastball from Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez in the ninth inning.

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
In the top of the first inning, Starling Marte slashed a single to left field and attempted to stretch for a double. Adam Duvall's throw was initially not in time, but Marte overslid second base and Scooter Gennett was able to dive with his glove to tag the runner for the out. The Pirates challenged the call, but replay officials determined that the call stands because it couldn't be determined clearly that Marte got back to second base in time before he was tagged.

Video: PIT@CIN: Duvall nabs Marteat second, call stands

UP NEXT
The Reds' three-game series vs. Pittsburgh wraps up at 1:10 p.m. ET Sunday at Great American Ball Park. Cincinnati will have Matt Harvey starting against Ivan Nova. Harvey is 4-0 with a 1.86 ERA over his last five starts and hasn't taken a loss since June 15 -- vs. the Pirates at PNC Park. He is 2-2 with a 4.85 ERA in seven starts against Pittsburgh in his career.

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, Anthony DeSclafani

Dunn, Norman, Bristol inducted to Reds' HOF

Trio throws out first pitch in front of Cincinnati greats
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Former Reds power-hitting left fielder Adam Dunn rarely liked talking about himself, and the night of his induction to the Reds Hall of Fame was not much different. Dunn certainly appreciated the honor, but it was more about the greats already part of the special group he was joining.

Dunn was sitting alongside fellow 2018 honorees Dave Bristol and Fred Norman but was also flanked by previous inductees Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Barry Larkin and Eric Davis, among several other legends of the Reds.

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CINCINNATI -- Former Reds power-hitting left fielder Adam Dunn rarely liked talking about himself, and the night of his induction to the Reds Hall of Fame was not much different. Dunn certainly appreciated the honor, but it was more about the greats already part of the special group he was joining.

Dunn was sitting alongside fellow 2018 honorees Dave Bristol and Fred Norman but was also flanked by previous inductees Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Barry Larkin and Eric Davis, among several other legends of the Reds.

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"Look up here. Look who I am sitting up here with," Dunn said on Saturday just before induction ceremonies on the field at Great American Ball Park. "It's not just some of the greatest players to ever put on a Reds uniform but to ever play the game. Some of the best at their position to ever play the game. Let that sink in. That's pretty impressive."

Selected by Cincinnati in the second round of the 1998 Draft, Dunn reached the Majors by '01, when he finished fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting, and became a mainstay in the middle of the lineup for eight of his 14 Major League seasons.

Of his 462 career home runs, Dunn slugged 270 with the Reds, which ranks him fourth all time on the club. His .520 slugging percentage with Cincinnati is ranked third in franchise history. The 2002 All-Star hit 40 or more home runs with 100 or more walks in five straight seasons from '04 until '08, when he was traded to the D-backs in August.

"The thing I liked about Dunner, he was one of the greatest hitters I've ever seen as far as driving the baseball out of the ballpark. It was unbelievable," former teammate and Reds Hall of Famer Sean Casey said. "When I think about my career, I think of teammates and guys I played with … Dunner is one of my best friends of the game. I think about times in the back of the planes and bus rides and all of the great times we had outside of the game."

Dunn is second in club history with seven walk-off home runs, nine grand slams and 46 game-winning homers. He also will be forever known in Cincinnati for hitting the longest home run in Great American Ball Park history -- a 535-foot shot off the Dodgers' Jose Lima on Aug. 10, 2004. The ball left the ballpark and landed on the banks of the Ohio River.

Video: LAD@CIN: Adam Dunn hits a tape-measure shot to center

"It was a good one," Dunn said.

Norman, a Major League left-handed pitcher for 16 seasons, spent 1973-79 with the Reds and was part of the World Series winning clubs in '75 and '76. During his tenure in Cincinnati, he was 85-64 with a 3.43 ERA.

Norman had double-digit wins in each of his seven Reds seasons. But on the Big Red Machine -- a team loaded with hitting greatness -- pitchers were often overshadowed.

"I just figured we did our job," Norman said. "We knew we had the offense. We knew we had the defense and things like that. All we had to do was go out and throw strikes and hold people down, and I think that's what we did."

Before joining the Reds, Norman had pitched against them for the Dodgers, Padres and Cubs.

"Thank God I don't have to face them anymore," the 75-year-old Norman said of his thoughts about joining the Reds. "I finally was [on the Reds], and I can't be happier than ever right now."

Bristol, who is now 85, managed the Reds from 1966-69, just before the Big Red Machine era but during the early careers of stars Rose and Bench. In those four seasons, Bristol compiled a 298-265 (.529) record. His teams never finished higher than third place. Did he know the type of talent he had would go on to be one of the greatest collections of players ever?

"To be brutally honest, no," said Bristol, who later returned to the club as a coach. "You don't get this many good players together very often. Not many teams take the time to teach them to make sure they know how to play."

Established in 1958, the Reds Hall of Fame now has 89 members, including 82 players and five managers.

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

Reds place Blandino on DL with torn ACL

Infielder Dixon recalled to fill 25-man roster spot
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Reds infielder Alex Blandino wore a brace over his right knee and walked in the clubhouse Saturday with the aid of crutches. Blandino was disappointed, having been given the news his 2018 season was prematurely over after being injured by a slide on Friday vs. the Pirates.

The Reds placed Blandino on the 10-day disabled list after he was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He is scheduled to have season-ending surgery on Monday.

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CINCINNATI -- Reds infielder Alex Blandino wore a brace over his right knee and walked in the clubhouse Saturday with the aid of crutches. Blandino was disappointed, having been given the news his 2018 season was prematurely over after being injured by a slide on Friday vs. the Pirates.

The Reds placed Blandino on the 10-day disabled list after he was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He is scheduled to have season-ending surgery on Monday.

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"Recovery is 5-6 months from there. I have a good support staff here to take care of me," Blandino said. "It's definitely unfortunate, and I'm pretty bummed out. It's something guys come back from, and they're fine. I'm looking forward to getting back out there as soon as possible."

Infielder/outfielder Brandon Dixon was recalled from Triple-A Louisville to replace Blandino on the 25-man roster.

Blandino, 25, pinch-hit in the eighth inning and was playing second base in the ninth inning of Friday's 12-1 loss to the Pirates when baserunner Max Moroff rolled into Blandino's knee while trying to break up a double play. Blandino had fielded a grounder from hitter Jordan Luplow and touched second base himself before successfully throwing to first base.

Video: PIT@CIN: Blandino exits game with an injury

"It was kind of a routine double-play ball," Blandino said. "I was expecting him to be kind of closer to me when I threw the ball so if there was some contact, it would have been when I was in the air as opposed to after I planted. He got stuck and kind of rolled up on to it after I landed back on the ground. It was kind of a freak accident. It happens, but it's definitely unfortunate."

Steady rain throughout the game created muddy conditions on the infield dirt.

"When I slid, my cleat got caught and because of that I rolled to try to avoid him," Moroff said. "When he threw, he was right there when I rolled, and his knee looked like it hit my side.

"I had no intention of doing any harm to anyone."

Moroff immediately apologized on the field to Blandino and again after the game via text message.

"He kind of stuck on his slide, and it turned out to be a pretty not ideal way to slide. But I know it's not what he intended," Blandino said. "There's no hard feelings. It's just kind of a bummer. I know I feel bad about it, and he feels bad about it as well."

In 69 games during his rookie year, Blandino is batting .234 with one home run and eight RBIs. But he led the team with nine hits as a pinch-hitter this season.

Although Blandino opened the season at Louisville, he was promoted on April 9.

"He put himself in a position where he never thought he had to go back," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "He got enough at-bats to stay relatively sharp. He did lead our club in pinch-hits and got some big ones for us. I think there's more in the future for him than coming off the bench to hit. That was his role on our club. He did a great job."

Video: CIN@PIT: Dixon launches his 1st Major League homer

Dixon is batting .346 with six home runs in 49 games for Louisville this season, and he hit for the cycle on Wednesday. He batted .219 with one homer in 29 games, including three starts during his previous big league callup.

Blandino was the Reds' only bench player with experience at shortstop. Although Dixon plays three infield positions, shortstop is not one of them. If something were to happen to Jose Peraza, Riggleman would likely turn to third baseman Eugenio Suarez to move over. Suarez was previously a shortstop.

"I think Brandon could go over and do that. But Suarez would be the more natural shortstop if we needed to take Peraza out for few innings or a few days," Riggleman said.

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, Alex Blandino, Brandon Dixon

For 2nd straight start, wheels come off for Mahle

MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- During the Reds' recent winning surge, they haven't been on the wrong end of lopsided losses very often. A big reason for Cincinnati's revival from the rotation side has been rookie pitcher Tyler Mahle.

Following Friday's 12-1 defeat to the Pirates at Great American Ball Park in a lackluster opening to the second half -- which was just Cincinnati's third loss of more than four runs in the past month -- Mahle has now been on the hook for the last two rough games for the team. His six earned runs allowed were a season-high and they happened over 5 2/3 innings, when Mahle allowed eight hits (including two homers) and three walks against three strikeouts.

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CINCINNATI -- During the Reds' recent winning surge, they haven't been on the wrong end of lopsided losses very often. A big reason for Cincinnati's revival from the rotation side has been rookie pitcher Tyler Mahle.

Following Friday's 12-1 defeat to the Pirates at Great American Ball Park in a lackluster opening to the second half -- which was just Cincinnati's third loss of more than four runs in the past month -- Mahle has now been on the hook for the last two rough games for the team. His six earned runs allowed were a season-high and they happened over 5 2/3 innings, when Mahle allowed eight hits (including two homers) and three walks against three strikeouts.

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Mahle gave up seven runs (five earned) over 2 1/3 innings in a 19-4 loss to the Indians on July 11. That came after a seven-start stretch where he had a 2.04 ERA while going 4-0.

"Some bad luck involved, and bad pitching. It's nothing else to really say," Mahle said.

Pittsburgh already led, 2-0, when it opened the top of the sixth inning with a Colin Moran single and a Josh Bell walk. Pitching coach Danny Darwin paid a mound visit but on the very first pitch after the chat, Mahle left a slider up to Sean Rodriguez and gave up a three-run homer. With two outs and a full count, Corey Dickerson slugged another slider for a solo homer to make it a 6-0 game and end Mahle's night.

"A slider down the middle to Rodriguez. It was another slider down the middle, a full count. I had to throw a strike. Both sliders, both home runs that hurt real bad," Mahle said.

According to Statcast™, 22 of Mahle's 111 pitches in the game were sliders. It garnered three swings-and-misses, two called strikes and four foul balls. Rodriguez didn't hit a cheap homer, with an exit velocity of 103.7 mph and it traveled 407 feet.

If bad pitching does derail a Mahle performance, odds are that it could happen in the sixth inning. Including Friday, he has a 9.00 ERA in the sixth -- by far his worse in any inning of a game -- with four home runs.

"We've talked about it earlier in the year," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "We were getting past the point of that sixth inning. That sixth inning bit one of our starters again. He had given up a couple of runs before that but not many hard-hit balls. He was kind of cruising along. In the sixth, he kind of lost control a little bit.

"It's kind of a hurdle we've got to get over there."

Video: PIT@CIN: Riggleman on Blandino, loss to Pirates

The long night was made longer before Mahle could even throw a pitch. Rain forced a two-hour, 55-minute delay of the game's start.

"Once it got closer to the game time was supposed to be, I didn't go through my whole routine but I just started to warm up again and went out and played catch and went into the bullpen and did all of that stuff," Mahle said.

It was scoreless in the top of the fourth when Mahle threw a wild pitch to Bell that moved Moran into scoring position. After Bell walked, Rodriguez's RBI single to left field plated the game's first run. A squeeze bunt by Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon scored Bell for a two-run deficit.

A Jesse Winker RBI double in the sixth ended Taillon's night, but Pittsburgh added a run in the seventh inning when Gregory Polanco hit a leadoff triple against reliever Austin Brice and scored on an Elias Diaz single. In the eighth inning against Jackson Stephens, Starling Marte slugged a grand slam to left field to turn the game into a blowout.

Video: PIT@CIN: Winker lifts an RBI double in the 6th

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The game was out of hand when an unfortunate incident happened in the top of the ninth. As backup infielder Alex Blandino turned a double play at second base, Max Moroff rolled into his right knee in an unsuccessful attempt to break up a double play. Blandino immediately grabbed his knee and would have to be helped off the field. With the Reds out of middle infielders on their bench, backup catcher Curt Casali replaced Blandino at second base -- his first time at that position, coming immediately after he made his first career appearance as the first baseman to open the ninth.

• Blandino injured on DP breakup attempt

"Hopefully, it's something that will not be too devastating for him. But it's certainly very unfortunate," Riggleman said of Blandino's injury.

Video: PIT@CIN: Blandino exits game with an injury

SOUND SMART
Winker had two hits on Friday to extend his career-high hitting streak to 11 games. It's tied for the longest hit streak among National League rookies with the Padres' Christian Villanueva, who did it April 13-28.

UP NEXT
Coming off his poorest outing of the season to conclude the first half, Anthony DeSclafani will make the start on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. ET at Great American Ball Park, opposite Pirates pitcher Nick Kingham. DeSclafani gave up a season-high six earned runs over 3 1/3 innings during Sunday's 6-4 loss to the Cardinals. He is 2-2 with a 3.38 ERA in seven career starts vs. Pittsburgh.

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, Tyler Mahle, Jesse Winker

Cat runs onto field during pitch at Reds game

The Reds and Pirates had to endure a nearly three-hour rain delay on Friday night at Great American Ball Park before even the first pitch was thrown. Despite Joey Votto's antics during the delay, the lack of baseball probably caused some restlessness in the stands -- and not just from the humans in attendance.

Case-in point: The conclusion of the top of the fourth inning. Corey Dickerson was at the plate against Tyler Mahle. During the first pitch, the matchup was interrupted by an unexpected furry guest.

Bailey due back Tuesday; what will rotation be?

Reds debating going with 6 starters; Ervin recalled for Schebler; Votto gets recovery day Friday
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Assuming there are no setbacks, the Reds plan to activate Homer Bailey from the disabled list for Tuesday's game vs. the Cardinals. What remains to be seen, however, is whether Bailey will be part of a five-man or six-man rotation.

Sal Romano is going to be available from the bullpen this weekend against the Pirates, but he could still start on Wednesday after Bailey. It will depend on if he's used as a reliever before then, and how much.

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CINCINNATI -- Assuming there are no setbacks, the Reds plan to activate Homer Bailey from the disabled list for Tuesday's game vs. the Cardinals. What remains to be seen, however, is whether Bailey will be part of a five-man or six-man rotation.

Sal Romano is going to be available from the bullpen this weekend against the Pirates, but he could still start on Wednesday after Bailey. It will depend on if he's used as a reliever before then, and how much.

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"He's the most useable guy in the bullpen, as opposed to the other guys," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said of Romano. "We can use him in the bullpen for a couple of days and then use him on that sixth day. The other guys, we were a little more reluctant to do that with. It's more that than anything [else]. He's been throwing the ball well. We're anxious to get him out there starting."

Video: CIN@CL: Romano strikes out Perez swinging

Bailey has been out with right knee inflammation since June 2. He made his last big league start May 28 vs. Arizona and is is 1-7 with a 6.68 ERA in 12 starts this season. The club planned on moving him to the bullpen before the injury and had him try a relief appearance during his rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville, before reversing course.

In his sixth start for Louisville on Wednesday, Bailey pitched seven scoreless innings with four hits, three walks and three strikeouts while throwing 110 pitches vs. Rochester. In the start before that, he notched 10 strikeouts over six innings while allowing four earned runs.

"The report was really positive on what he did," Riggleman said.

Bailey, 32, is making $21 million this season, and is owed an additional $23 million for '19. He has a $25 million club option for '20 that has a $5 million buyout.

Riggleman plans to have Luis Castillo start the series opener vs. St. Louis on Monday, after Tyler Mahle, Anthony DeSclafani and Matt Harvey work the series vs. Pittsburgh.

Harvey, of course, is front and center in Reds trade rumors leading up to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Even if Cincinnati has a six-man rotation, it might not be for very long, depending on what the club decides to do in the trade market.

Ervin recalled
The Reds recalled outfielder Phillip Ervin from Louisville on Friday to take the roster spot of Scott Schebler. The right fielder was placed on the 10-day DL on Thursday with a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder. The move was retroactive to Sunday.

"He's feeling much better," Riggleman said. "And really, because of the four-day All-Star break and not playing the last game Sunday, that's five of the 10 days right there. I don't think he would have been ready to play today, but he's not far away. I don't think it will be much more than the 10 days."

Ervin opened this season on the big league club and batted .205 in 19 games. He returned for three days in June while Schebler was on the bereavement list, but did not play. In 48 games for Louisville, Ervin batted .289 with five home runs and 38 RBIs.

Video: CIN@PHI: Ervin ties it late with a clutch single

"He sat a lot here, just like [Brandon] Dixon did. They needed to go down and play," Riggleman said. "Dixon's doing well down there now. Phil was doing well down there. Instead of letting them sit too much, let them go down and they can come up and help us."

Votto enjoyed sixth All-Star experience
On the first day of the second half, Reds All-Star first baseman Joey Votto was out of the starting lineup. It wasn't because of an injury.

"I could use a little bit of a breather," Votto said.

"Give him a break after all of the travel and hoopla and everything that took place in Washington and the travel out of there," Riggleman said.

Votto snapped a 0-for-12 mark in All-Star Game at-bats Tuesday with a 10th inning solo home run for the National League in an 8-6 loss to the American League. It was a Scooter Gennett two-run homer in the ninth that forced extras and gave Votto a third chance to bat in the game.

Video: 2018 ASG: Votto crushes solo homer in the 10th inning

"It was a cool experience all the way around," said Votto, a six-time NL All-Star. "I get real excited getting picked for the All-Star team and being on the bench when Scooter had that big moment in the ninth inning. I think most guys in here that play with him on a daily basis, we weren't surprised. It was really a fun game."

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, Homer Bailey, Phillip Ervin, Joey Votto

Votto cheesed while receiving ASG recognition

While the All-Star festivities have come and gone, the Reds' fans hadn't had a chance to wish their elected All-Stars congratulations -- that was until they returned from the break on Friday night. Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez were on the field prior to the Pirates-Reds game to receive recognition for their selections. And Votto seized the opportunity to be well -- very Votto about it.

Riggleman talks managing Reds' turnaround

MLB.com @ladsonbill24

In a recent phone interview with MLB.com, Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman answered questions on a wide range of topics, from his managerial style to his respect for Reds ownership.

MLB.com: Your agent, Burton Rocks, told me you are having the time of your life. How much fun are you having?

In a recent phone interview with MLB.com, Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman answered questions on a wide range of topics, from his managerial style to his respect for Reds ownership.

MLB.com: Your agent, Burton Rocks, told me you are having the time of your life. How much fun are you having?

Jim Riggleman: I have to preface it by saying working with and for [former Reds manager] Bryan Price was great. I love Bryan. It was kind of like when I was with Manny [Acta in Washington]. They managed well. It's just that they couldn't win ballgames. After a while, that just catches up to you. The other side of that is, now that I've become the manager, I do, absolutely, love it. I'm enjoying it to the nth degree. It's what I love to do.

MLB.com: Once you took over, what made the team click?

Riggleman: I think a couple of things: After about a week into the season, Eugenio Suarez got hit by a pitch and broke a finger. He was out for about three weeks. And then right around the same time, Scott Schebler, our right fielder, had a shoulder issue, and we put him on the DL for a couple of weeks. About that time, I was named the manager.

All of a sudden, most of our guys are healthy. I have a pretty good bullpen, too. We have David Hernandez, Jared Hughes, Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, and I have some options to go to that have a chance to work. We also have the full component of hitters back.

When Suarez and Schebler were out, the offense was not clicking. We knew we had a pretty good offensive ballclub, but it wasn't producing. As time went on, sometime in May, it started clicking and we have been scoring runs.

Video: CIN@STL: Reds take lead with 4 runs in the 7th inning

MLB.com: The offense has really been productive.

Riggleman: Sometime in late May, guys started finding their stroke. Suarez, when healthy, has been good from Day 1. Scooter Gennett, Joey Votto, Jose Peraza, Billy Hamilton -- who has had a really good month -- they just started clicking. Clubs go through this. It's kind of hard to explain. You have good offensive players, and they are not scoring runs early in the season. That has not been an issue for us lately. We have been putting out pretty good offensive performances on most nights.

They feed off each other with Gennett's energy, which he brings to the ballpark every day. He has been a force in the middle of the lineup. He hits behind Votto, which protects Joey. Suarez hits right in the middle there, and he has been a big run producer.

MLB.com: As a manager, what is it like to have Votto on your club?

Riggleman: The thing people will never understand about Joey is the work ethic. The work that he puts in pregame defensively, the work that he puts in with the strength and conditioning coach, then he gets into the batting cage and is relentless with his work. That's a real pleasure. Your best players are great workers. That sets the tone for the rest of the club.

Video: 2018 ASG: Votto crushes solo homer in the 10th inning

MLB.com: Last year, the Reds didn't have any pitching. All of a sudden, under your guidance, the pitching staff is doing well. You have to feel good about that.

Riggleman: I do feel good about it. It's still a work in progress. We have a lot of young starters -- Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, Sal Romano. Anthony DeSclafani is relatively a young starter because he missed a lot of time the last couple of years. They are starting to give us better outings. We have a good bullpen. Our issue was, earlier in the year, our starters were giving us so few innings that our bullpen was really getting overstressed with too many appearances. We've been able to calm that down.

Video: CIN@CLE: DeSclafani allows just 1 run over 7 strong

MLB.com: I remember when you were with the Nationals, you were a screamer at times when things went wrong. You were not afraid to yell at the players. What did you do to light a fire with the Reds?

Riggleman: By nature, [screaming] isn't what I am. I'm not a screamer and all that. I try to tell people: We as managers, we react to what's happening. We make our moves as a manager based on how the players are performing. I would never get upset with a player because of a poor performance. But I would get upset with what I felt was lackadaisical effort, lackadaisical in the preparation, disrespect for teammates. That's when I would lose it and get loud with a player.

Sometimes, it might be something as simple as removing a pitcher from a ballgame. He thinks he should stay in the game, but you are making the managerial decision to remove him. They get upset, and they get loud with you. So I would get loud back.

But I let [the Reds' players] know when I took over the team, look I may ruffle some feathers, but we are 3-15. We played 18 games and we are already nine games out of first. … I can't stand in front of a room and say we are all right. We are not all right. I'm going to change things up.

Video: Votto and Gennett reflect on being All-Stars

MLB.com: How much did you miss managing after you left the Nationals during the middle of the 2011 season?

Riggleman: I missed managing tremendously. The thing is, I did manage the next three years after leaving Washington in Double-A and Triple-A. It's not the same, but it's still managing. The fire is still burning when the umpire says, "Play ball." You are still churning with decision-making and managing ballplayers and handling situations. It's not the same extent as the Major Leagues. But it did allow me to continue to do what I love to do.

MLB.com: From now until the end of the second half, how far can this team go?

Riggleman: We've scored around six runs a game for quite a while and you can't expect that to continue. That's not realistic. We have to step it up. We got to continue to make progress with the pitching. We have to be able to pitch to a level where we don't have to score five or six runs every night. We can do that, but it's a challenge every night. We have not had many ballgames where we said, "That was a nice easy one." We haven't had any of those. In games we have won, a few plays here and there, we could have lost. Most of our losses have been that way, too. We feel like anything could happen.

We feel we can compete with these good clubs. We played the Braves, Cubs, Brewers, Indians and we held our own against all those teams. That has made our players say, "Hey, we are not far away. We can make some noise in this division. But we also realize, we just got beat 19-4 the other day. We realize we haven't got this thing figured out yet."

Video: CIN@STL: Herrera's 3-run dinger highlights 5-run 7th

MLB.com: How happy are you that you brought back hope to Cincinnati?

Riggleman: I don't want to say I brought it back. But I'm really excited about what I'm hearing from fans. When we were in Cleveland and Cincinnati fans made the trip, I heard a lot of comments in the stands. People really appreciate the direction the team is going. When we were in Cincinnati recently, we were 6-0 on our homestand. The excitement around restaurants and bars around the ballpark was at a really high level.

Our owner, Bob Castellini, is a great man. I will tell you: In all my years of baseball, I've experienced something that I never experienced in any place I've been. It's the only time where I sat in my office and the owner has walked in and we've talked baseball. That's a beautiful thing. When you are talking with the owner and he is telling you his feelings -- he might be talking about his disappointments with last night's game or he might be talking about how excited he is about the way the team is playing. I never had that.

My mentor, the guy who I learned from, was Whitey Herzog. He had that relationship with Mr. [August] Busch [Jr.] in St. Louis. [Herzog] would be welcomed into Mr. Busch's house to talk baseball. Mr. Busch would come into his office and talk baseball. It's a great feeling talking to the owner of the ballclub. I never had that any place [until I became interim manager of the Reds].

MLB.com: What is the future like for you? Any chance you will become the permanent manager?

Riggleman: This might sound a little Pollyanna-ish, but I'm going to tell you: I love managing, as you know. The way things ended in Washington, I felt like, "Man, I hope I get a chance to manage again." I know it's unlikely. But here I am. The feeling that overwhelms me is that I'm so glad I'm doing this again. If it ends right here in 2018, I will be fine. I will have such a great feeling of satisfaction that I've done this again. We are winning some games. It's more of a positive note than when I left Washington. If it ends here in '18, I will be OK with it. I will know that the Castellini family; the general manager, Nick Krall; Dick Williams, the president, they have treated me with such great respect that I will feel like, "Hey, anything you want me to do. If you want me to continue to manage, I would love to do it. If you don't, I completely respect it. Let's move on from there." Maybe I will do something else for the organization.

Video: CIN@STL: Peraza sets team mark for hits in 3-game sst

MLB.com: Have you heard from Mike Rizzo [Nationals GM and president of baseball operations]?

Riggleman: Mike and I talk during the season when we play [Washington]. Every time we've played the Nationals in the last two or three years, I've gone over and talked to him and praised him. Because I think Mike has put the best team on the field of any general manager in baseball. They are the favorites, and they are the favorites because of the team he has put together there. The team has not been able to go out full-force year after year. This year, it's Daniel Murphy, Ryan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg who are hurt. [If all their players are healthy], they are clearly the best ballclub. That team has been put together by Mike Rizzo. You have to tip your hat to Mike.

MLB.com: What's the biggest thing you have learned as a manager now that you didn't learn before?

Riggleman: I haven't changed that much. I'm adapting. As far as dealing with people, I still deal with people in the manner of discipline and respect. I still have a shouting match every now and then with a ballplayer. That's one of the things that I've talked to Mr. Castellini about. I said, "With where we are, I'm going to have to change some things around. I'm going to ruffle some feathers, and I'm going to irritate some people. They are not going to like it. So they are not going to like me. But if you are worried about them liking me, I can tell you right now … I'm not going to have those confrontations if they are not going to be supported." And I was assured, "You do whatever you need to do to get these players going. Whatever you need to do, it will be totally supported."

What has changed is pitcher usage. It's just how few innings we are asking from our starters -- how many bullpen guys we are carrying instead of an extra bench player. You are carrying fewer position guys because you are carrying so many pitchers. I know I used the heck out of [Nationals pitchers] Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen and Sean Burnett, but that's how we won games. If you want to win games [today], you are going to come up with sore arms in that bullpen. That's just the nature of it.

Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. He covered the Nationals/Expos from 2002-2016. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Cincinnati Reds

How Deadline is shaping up for Reds

MLB.com @adamdberry

The All-Star Game has come and gone, and the non-waiver Trade Deadline is less than two weeks away. Until July 31, much of the talk in baseball will be focused around buyers and sellers, blockbuster moves and small deals and an endless buzz of trade rumors.

The National League Central might be one of the most intriguing divisions over the next 12 days. The Cubs have climbed back into first place, and they have by far the NL's best run differential. After an aggressive offseason, the Brewers' recent skid has given them more reason to make another big splash. The Cardinals ousted manager Mike Matheny, but will they shake up their roster?

The All-Star Game has come and gone, and the non-waiver Trade Deadline is less than two weeks away. Until July 31, much of the talk in baseball will be focused around buyers and sellers, blockbuster moves and small deals and an endless buzz of trade rumors.

The National League Central might be one of the most intriguing divisions over the next 12 days. The Cubs have climbed back into first place, and they have by far the NL's best run differential. After an aggressive offseason, the Brewers' recent skid has given them more reason to make another big splash. The Cardinals ousted manager Mike Matheny, but will they shake up their roster?

The Pirates are in a different place than they were two weeks ago, now standing within one game of .500 and 5 1/2 games back in the race for the second NL Wild Card spot. The Reds are 40-38 under interim manager Jim Riggleman, so perhaps they'll be more inclined to hang on to players previously presumed to be trade candidates.

This week, MLB.com spoke with scouts and executives to see what they think will happen in the NL Central.

CUBS
What they need to do: The Cubs will look for rotation depth, an NL executive suggested, especially if they don't think Yu Darvish is close to helping them. An NL scout noted the Cubs need more consistency from their rotation, so they should pursue a starter. That lines up with what Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer recently said about the Cubs' search for pitching. With no other glaring needs, an NL executive said, they'll likely be in the market for another back-end bullpen arm.

What they can get: The Cubs don't have a particularly strong system, one NL official pointed out, so they may not be in position to make a big move. An NL scout said their Major League depth theoretically frees them up to move someone like Ian Happ or Mike Montgomery, who might start for another club, if they wanted to pursue a bigger acquisition. They don't have a representative on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list, and they moved their best trade chips to get Aroldis Chapman (2016) and Jose Quintana ('17).

Video: The MLB Tonight crew discuss the Brewers' needs

BREWERS
What they need to do: One NL executive said the Brewers need pitching, both in their rotation and bullpen, along with help in the middle infield. The executive expected Milwaukee to pursue a contractually controllable starting pitcher and at least one infield upgrade. The Brewers have been relying on Tyler Saladino, Jonathan Villar, Brad Miller and Hernan Perez up the middle. An NL scout took it a step further, saying the Brewers "must" get a starter and prioritize that over a shortstop.

What they can get: An NL official said the Brewers had the necessary pieces to acquire All-Star shortstop Manny Machado, who was dealt to the Dodgers on Wednesday, even if they didn't complete the trade. The fact that they pursued Machado, the consensus top player available before the Trade Deadline, puts them in play for just about anyone. One NL scout said the Crew has the prospects and depth in their farm system to get a "high-end starter." They've also been linked to infielders Whit Merrifield, Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar, among others, and a number of starters, including rental lefty J.A. Happ.

CARDINALS
What they need to do: Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak recently said the club's next move was "TBD," so their direction is unclear. The Cards have underperformed, leading one NL scout to say they simply need their roster to play better. The scout said their hitters and starters are good enough to win, but they lack depth in the bullpen. Their biggest concern, the scout said, remains in the dugout following Matheny's dismissal.

Video: Cards dismiss manager Matheny, hitting coach Mabry

What they can get: Bullpen help is never in short supply this time of year, so one scout suggested they look to "the usual suspect teams" to shore up their relief corps. The Mets, Orioles, White Sox, Marlins, Blue Jays and Padres, among others, should have veteran relief help available. Lefty relievers like Zach Duke (a former Cardinal), Luis Avilan and Jake Diekman may be of some appeal.

PIRATES
What they need to do: Some in the industry believe the Pirates might be better off taking part in a multi-year rebuild, but the Bucs have said they intend to be competitive this year, and next. In that case, an NL executive said, they can't trade core players like Starling Marte and Jameson Taillon. One NL scout figured that predicament, along with their recent surge, will lead them to wait until closer to July 31 to take any action. If they're still toward the back of the Wild Card race, the scout said, they won't be "big-time buyers." If they've fallen completely out of the mix, they can move veterans, then use the rest of the season to evaluate their young talent -- including prospects like Austin Meadows, Kevin Newman, Kevin Kramer and Clay Holmes -- and determine who they can build around going forward.

What they can get: One NL scout figured closer Felipe Vazquez would bring in a haul of young talent, given the demand for young, controllable relievers, but Vazquez is the kind of core player the Pirates won't move if they want to contend next season. Their most likely trade candidates are left fielder Corey Dickerson, catcher Francisco Cervelli (if healthy), starter Ivan Nova and infielders Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer and David Freese. One scout figured Dickerson could bring in at least one organizational top-10-caliber prospect, and thought there would be interest in Harrison, Mercer and Freese as utility/role/bench players. Cervelli's concussions complicate his future, and while Nova is a reliable veteran, he isn't the kind of front-line arm most contenders are looking for this time of year.

REDS
What they need to do: The Reds' recent run has inspired some confidence in Cincinnati, and one NL executive pointed out that they have a lineup that could contend, as long as it's led by Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez. However, one NL scout said the Reds need to capitalize on their short-term assets and sell. The scout said Cincinnati could flip Matt Harvey to a contender and get back as much talent as possible, then market Billy Hamilton as a fourth outfielder who could change games with his speed and defense.

What they can get: One NL scout noted that this deadline will shed light on their overall plan. If they think they can contend as soon as next year, it might make sense to keep Gennett, closer Raisel Iglesias and reliever Jared Hughes. The scout credited Cincinnati as having a strong core of position players and "a chance to have a good 'pen if they stay where they are." One scout thought they could swap Hamilton, at least, to land some young pitching prospects to eventually bolster their unproven rotation.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals

Reds end first half hot, but '19 is still main focus

Cincinnati's surge helps avoid need for bigger-scale rebuild; Harvey likely to be flipped
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- It seems quite the contradiction that the Reds are both in fifth place in the National League Central and one of the hottest teams in the Major Leagues.

Yet that's exactly where Cincinnati is with a 43-53 record at the All-Star break. The situation is much more optimistic than when the season started. Manager Bryan Price was let go after a 3-15 record, and interim manager Jim Riggleman was brought in on April 19. The Reds have gone 40-38 under Riggleman.

CINCINNATI -- It seems quite the contradiction that the Reds are both in fifth place in the National League Central and one of the hottest teams in the Major Leagues.

Yet that's exactly where Cincinnati is with a 43-53 record at the All-Star break. The situation is much more optimistic than when the season started. Manager Bryan Price was let go after a 3-15 record, and interim manager Jim Riggleman was brought in on April 19. The Reds have gone 40-38 under Riggleman.

While Riggleman deserves credit, he also benefitted from the return of Eugenio Suarez and Scott Schebler from the disabled list and Joey Votto rebounding from a slow start. The rotation -- aided by the healthy return of Anthony DeSclafani and the acquisition of Matt Harvey -- has found a groove.

Since June 10, the Reds' 21-10 record is best in the National League. While their postseason hopes remain a long shot, there is still plenty of time for the club to feel like it salvaged 2018 and that it built something towards contending in '19.

Here are where things stand for the Reds at the All-Star break, with the non-waiver Trade Deadline approaching on July 31:

Current status: Seller
This fact should be qualified, somewhat. Had the April start continued that trajectory throughout the first half, the Reds would be huge sellers and looking to start the rebuild over. President of baseball operations Dick Williams recently told MLB.com the club would still look to make moves for the short-term and long-term future, but Cincinnati is clearly not prepping for a fire sale.

Video: Must C Comeback: Votto caps Reds' 7-run rally in 9th

What they are seeking
Starting pitching. If this rebuild has taught the Reds anything, it's that even the best projections for young starters don't always pan out immediately -- or at all. Several of the young, promising starters that were expected to be come into their own in 2018 simply haven't. Luis Castillo and Sal Romano have endured inconsistency throughout this season. Tyler Mahle had a sensational June but had more than a few bumps early on. Amir Garrett has proven to be most effective out of the bullpen and has largely thrived as a reliever. After a rough start and demotion, Brandon Finnegan is at Triple-A Louisville converting to a reliever. Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed are also with Louisville.

What they have to offer
The Reds have a few attractive trade chips and only one key player in Harvey who is not under club control for 2019. Although it now appears Scooter Gennett is unlikely to be dealt, the Reds will try to flip Harvey to capitalize on his value increase since coming from the Mets in May. Relievers like Raisel Iglesias, Jared Hughes and David Hernandez have cost-effective contracts. Outfielders Billy Hamilton and Adam Duvall could also potentially be had.

Video: MIL@CIN: Harvey tosses 5 2/3 scoreless innings, K's 6

Possible scenario
It only seems like a matter of time before the Reds flip Harvey for a better return after they got him from the Mets for catcher Devin Mesoraco on May 8. Since the trade, he is 5-3 with a 3.64 ERA and 4-0 with a 1.86 ERA over his last five starts. A free agent at season's end with postseason experience, he would be a rental for a contending club needing a complementary but effective piece in their rotation. Harvey is back to throwing up to 96 mph and would probably net at least one quality prospect in return.

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, Matt Harvey

Stephenson homers twice for Daytona

MLB.com @wboor

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Thursday.

Jesus Luzardo extended his scoreless streak to 26 innings as he spun another gem in Double-A Midland's 3-1 win over Corpus Christi.

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Thursday.

Jesus Luzardo extended his scoreless streak to 26 innings as he spun another gem in Double-A Midland's 3-1 win over Corpus Christi.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

The Athletics' top prospect (No. 20 overall) hasn't surrendered a run since June 11 and hasn't allowed an earned run since June 6. The lefty has been lights out all season, posting a 2.36 through 14 starts with Midland after beginning the year with Class A Advanced Stockton, and Thursday's outing was no different.

Luzardo threw 42 of his 68 pitches for strikes and issued just one walk and one hit as he cruised through five innings. Luzardo also recorded seven strikeouts, bringing his total to 106 through 83 1/3 innings this season.

Luzardo's seventh strikeout

The 20-year-old got into a rhythm right away as he retired the first nine batters he faced. The Hooks put their leadoff man on base in both the fourth and fifth innings, but no damage was done and Luzardo retired six in a row to finish his outing.

Other top prospect performances from Thursday's action:

• No. 10 overall prospect Michael Kopech (White Sox No. 2) put together another strong start for Triple-A Charlotte. The hard-throwing right-hander yielded seven hits, but limited the damage to just two runs (one earned) over six innings. Kopech, who has struggled with consistency this season, has thrown the ball well lately, giving up one earned run or less in four of his past five starts. Also worth noting that Kopech's command was strong as he threw 70 of his 102 pitches for strikes while striking out nine and walking one.

• No. 100 overall prospect Dakota Hudson (Cardinals' No. 3) fell two outs shy of his first complete game this season, but still picked up his 13th win for Triple-A Memphis. Hudson, who was lifted after 6 1/3 innings, struck out eight and gave up one run on five hits as he lowered his ERA to 2.36 through 18 starts.

Braves No. 12 prospect Bryse Wilson has been nearly untouchable lately for Double-A Mississippi. After throwing seven scoreless frames, Wilson has turned in a scoreless performance in three of his past four starts. The 20-year-old right-hander matched his season high with nine strikeouts -- a total he's reached in three of his past four starts -- as he threw 64 of his 99 pitches for strikes. Wilson also walked one and gave up three hits.

Wilson throws seven scoreless

• Cardinals No. 27 prospect Elehuris Montero hit a pair of homers -- his first career multihomer game -- as part of a 3-for-5 performance for Class A Peoria. The 19-year-old hit two run homers in both the third and seventh innings.

Watch: Montero goes yard

Cubs No. 18 prospect Keegan Thompson continues to post zeros for Double-A Tennessee. The right-hander threw five scoreless innings and hasn't given up a run in three of his past four starts. Thompson threw 42 of his 72 pitches for strikes, struck out five, walked one and gave up two hits.

Dodgers No. 11 prospect Gavin Lux extended his hitting streak to 19 games with a leadoff triple for Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga. The 20-year-old later added another hit to finish 2-for-4 and boost his average to .324. Lux, a first-round pick from the 2016 Draft, last went hitless on June 26. Since then, he's raised his average 15 points and collected multiple hits in nine of the 19 games.

Reds No. 8 prospect Tyler Stephenson set a career high with two homers and tied a career high with five RBIs in a huge game for Class A Advanced Daytona. Stephenson, who is hitting .282 through 76 games this season, hit a two-run shot in the sixth and then capped his night with a three-run blast in the ninth.

Watch: Stephenson launches homer

• Reds No. 9 prospect Vladimir Gutierrez gave up one run over seven innings for Double-A Pensalcola and has now surrendered one earned run or less in seven of his past eight starts. Not only did Gutierrez keep the runs off the board, but he also piled up the strikeouts, reaching double digits (10) for the second time in his career.

Tigers No. 11 prospect Mike Gerber helped lift Triple-A Toledo to a win as he clubbed a pair of homers for the second time this season. Gerber, who has 12 homers through 59 games this season, hit solo homers in the fifth and eighth innings before finishing 2-for-3 with two RBIs.

Watch: Gerber rips 2nd homer

Twins No. 16 prospect Kohl Stewart seems to be finding his rhythm with Triple-A Rochester. Stewart gave up one run over six innings, while striking out eight and giving up a trio of hits. After giving up 11 runs in 10 innings over his first two starts, the right-hander has allowed one earned run in each of his past two outings (12 innings).

• Blue Jays first-round Draft pick Jordan Groshans came through with the second three-hit game of his career, finishing 3-for-5 with a homer in the Rookie-level GCL. The 18-year-old has gotten off to a fast start in his brief career and is slashing .372/.440/.590 with three homers through 21 games.

William Boor is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

Rolen IU's new director of player development

Hall of Fame candidate joins Hoosier's coaching staff to recruit players on campus
MLB.com @DeeshaThosar

Scott Rolen is jogging onto the diamond again; just not for Major League Baseball.

The eight-time National League Gold Glove Award winner, seven-time All-Star and Hall of Fame candidate returns to his native of Indiana -- serving as the director of player development for the Indiana University Hoosiers.

Scott Rolen is jogging onto the diamond again; just not for Major League Baseball.

The eight-time National League Gold Glove Award winner, seven-time All-Star and Hall of Fame candidate returns to his native of Indiana -- serving as the director of player development for the Indiana University Hoosiers.

Rolen played 17 seasons for the Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays and Reds from 1996-2012. Viewed as the best defensive third baseman of his era -- becoming just the fourth third baseman to have at least 2,000 career hits, 500 doubles, 300 home runs and 1,200 RBIs -- Rolen finished his career patrolling the hot corner in Cincinnati from 2009-12.

"I've enjoyed watching the success and development of IU baseball over the last five years under Tracy Smith and Chris Lemonis," Rolen told Indiana University Athletics. "Hopefully I can be a positive contribution to future successes here in Bloomington. I'm excited to be a Hoosier."

The 43-year-old Rolen will work alongside Indiana baseball head coach Jeff Mercer, recruiting coordinator Dan Held, pitching coach Justin Parker and assistant coach Casey Dykes.

Rolen's primary role as the Hoosier's director of player development will be collaborating with the coaching staff to recruit players on campus, in accordance with NCAA rules. Having spent 17 years on the big stage, Rolen is the perfect mentor for young athletes seeking valuable advice, lifestyle choices and informed decisions when pursuing professional baseball careers.

"I couldn't be more excited to add Scott Rolen to our staff," Mercer told Indiana University Athletics. "The impact Scott will have on the student athletes in our baseball program will be unique among college programs. The value for the staff and players, gaining knowledge daily from someone with such a historic career and who truly values the growth of young people, is special."

Video: Rolen on new breed of Phillies, his time with team

The Phils drafted Rolen in the second round after his senior year at Indiana's Jasper High School in 1993, where he was named Mr. Baseball. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound athlete hustled from the outset, debuting for the Phils in '96 and earning the NL Rookie of the Year Award the following year. He batted .281/.364/.490 with 2,077 hits, 316 home runs and 1,287 RBIs in his career.

Rolen was a member of the 2006 World Series championship team with St. Louis and won the '04 NL Silver Slugger Award in one of the best seasons of his career -- hitting .314 with 34 home runs and 124 RBIs. He spent four seasons in the top 10 WAR position players, capping his career with a lifetime 70.2 WAR.

Rolen received 10.2 percent of the votes in his first year on the ballot for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Eligible candidates need to receive at least 75 percent of the vote for election into Cooperstown. However, he did finish with the minimum 5 percent of votes required to return to the ballot in 2019 -- set to have nine more chances for the for the election. Rolen joins three-time Gold Glove Award winner and two-time All-Star Darin Erstad as Hall of Fame candidates to join college coaching staffs. Erstad serves as head coach of the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Deesha Thosar is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @DeeshaThosar.

Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies