PITTSBURGH -- The day after he felt the thrill of enjoying his best game of the season, Eugenio Suarez experienced a crushing blow on Sunday vs. the Pirates. Suarez suffered a fractured right thumb when he was hit on the hand by a pitch in the fourth inning of Cincinnati's 5-0 loss at PNC Park.
Suarez already headed back to Cincinnati to be examined further by team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek. He will be placed on the disabled list on Monday. Suarez is a clubhouse leader and one of the best offensive players for the club, and his loss will be profound for a struggling team off to a 2-6 start.
"There's no way to sugarcoat it. He's a big part of our ballclub," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "Looked like he was just starting to warm up a bit at the plate. It's the risk of playing baseball is the chance to get hurt. I'm looking forward to hearing what the news is probably [Monday] to see what we could anticipate as far as how much time Geno could miss. I'm really disappointed he was hurt today."
Upon being be struck by Jameson Taillon's 1-1 pitch - a 94-mph fastball -- Suarez grabbed his hand and spent several moments in obvious pain. He was looked over by trainer Steve Baumann and Price, but remained in the game and went to first base.
Before the bottom of the fourth inning, Suarez was removed and Cliff Pennington took over at third base.
"Immediately, his nail was turning different colors and there was bleeding around the thumb," Price said. "He was fine to run the bases, but I didn't anticipate him being able to stay in the game. I also didn't anticipate the thumb being broken either. That is certainly somewhat of a significant setback."
Pennington and Phil Gosselin are the likely replacements to fill in at third base while Suarez is out.
"They'll come in and absorb some of those innings and opportunities for sure," Price said. "We'll certainly make a roster move to get back to 25."
At Triple-A Louisville, prospect Alex Blandino was pulled from their game during the seventh inning. Blandino has been playing third base, including on Sunday.
Less likely, it appears, is for the Reds to call up their top prospect in Nick Senzel. Ranked No. 1 in the organization by MLBPipeline, Senzel is not on the 40-man roster yet. Theoretically, the club could wait to call up Senzel to curb his service time for the season and gain another year of club control before he can become a free agent.
During the Reds' 7-4 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday, Suarez went 3-for-4 with a walk. His five RBIs over his final two at-bats -- a two-run single in the sixth inning and three-run homer in the eighth -- helped in the come-from-behind win.
There was no feeling from the Reds that Taillon hit Suarez on purpose as he went on to pitch a one-hit shutout to take the four-game series for Pittsburgh.
"There's no intent there," Price said. "That's part of playing the game. Guys are gonna get hit by pitches, get injured in collisions, collided in the outfield, any number of things can happen playing competitive sports."
In eight games this season, Suarez is batting .296/.424/.630 with two homers and seven RBIs. Last season in 156 games, he had career highs with 26 home runs and 82 RBIs.
Wanting to make him a cornerstone member of the franchise, long term, the Reds signed Suarez to a seven-year, $66 million contract extension last month.
"Oh, it's terrible," catcher Tucker Barnhart said of the injury. "He's one of our best players, you know? And anytime you lose a guy that hits in the middle of your order, it's rough. It's part of it. We have to move on, no other choice."