CINCINNATI -- Working out of the bullpen this season for the Reds, Amir Garrett is off to a fantastic 2018. Recently installed interim manager Jim Riggleman plans on trying to capitalize on those performances by relying on Garrett even more.
"We intend to get him out there a lot more," Riggleman said Monday. "The more he can get out there to repeat that delivery, I think he's going to be that much better."
Garrett entered the day with 9 2/3 scoreless innings over eight appearances. His lone walk came in his first game and he has 11 strikeouts.
Under former manager Bryan Price, as recently as last week, Garrett was expected to remain in the bullpen as a complement to fellow lefty Wandy Peralta. With a lot of left-handers in the Braves' lineup, Riggleman will continue to use him as a relief option this week -- especially if someone has a short start.
But Riggleman left the option open to move Garrett into the rotation down the road.
"Back in the day, a lot of guys came to the big leagues and they started in the bullpen. Now, we seem to groom bullpen guys in the Minor Leagues," Riggleman said. "But this could be a situation where he gets groomed in the big leagues and if the rest of the ballclub works out, then he stays in the bullpen, he's really taken to it. He likes it. But if he could eventually start, that could be a real plus for us. Hopefully, the progress continues."
Garrett was 3-8 with 7.39 ERA and 1.61 WHIP in 16 games, including 14 starts, last season, but also dealt with right hip inflammation that affected his delivery. Riggleman believed he could get stretched out enough to start without a trip to Triple-A Louisville.
"He could end up going as much as three [innings in relief]. Once a guy has gone three, he could go four and five," Riggleman said. "It wouldn't take any time to stretch him out. In today's world, we talk about stretching people out, but not many of them go past five or 5 1/3 [innings] anyway."
Suarez to begin rehab assignment
Following the Reds' 10-4 victory over the Braves on Monday, the Reds announced that third baseman Eugenio Suarez would begin a rehab assignment Tuesday at Triple-A Louisville. Suarez has been on the 10-day DL since April 9 with a fractured right thumb. On April 8, vs. the Pirates, he was hit by a Jameson Taillon pitch.
It was not immediately known how many rehab games Suarez would need before returning. He resumed gripping a bat, hitting and throwing during the past road trip as he made faster progress than initially expected.
In eight games, Suarez is batting .296/.424./.630 with two home runs.
Hamilton not moving up, yet
For the third time in his four games as interim manager, Riggleman batted center fielder Billy Hamilton in the ninth spot, behind the pitcher. In the other game, Hamilton did not start on Saturday.
Riggleman noted there has been internal discussion on the club about where to bat Hamilton, who has struggled to hit during Spring Training and the regular season. He was the primary leadoff hitter last season and for most of his career. Price had moved him down several times to the bottom of the lineup, as well.
"Do we just put him back there in the first spot and run with it? Or do we leave him down below?" Riggleman said of the debate. "Until we're ready to say, 'Billy, go get 'em in that first spot and do what you can do,' I want to leave him down there. I don't want to put him there [at the top] today and not there tomorrow."
The ultimate goal -- if Hamilton can put it together offensively -- is for him to return to the top of the order.
"I can't tell you exactly when that would be," Riggleman said. "I remember the best I ever saw was [Cardinals manager] Whitey Herzog. He had Vince Coleman hitting down a bit lower in the lineup. After a couple of days, he said, 'The hell with that. If he can't hit first, he can't play.' That's obviously not where we are with Billy, but the preference would be that he hits first."
Reliever Kevin Shackelford (right forearm strain) had his rehab assignment moved from Double-A Pensacola to Louisville. On Sunday, Shackelford gave up two earned runs, one hit and two walks with two strikeouts while throwing 25 pitches.
Over his four rehab outings, Shackelford has given up three earned runs, three hits and five walks over 4 1/3 innings with four strikeouts.