CINCINNATI -- In past years, a player that felt sick might come to the ballpark, get some treatment and try to play. Not in 2020.
That's why the Reds scratched second baseman Mike Moustakas ahead of Sunday's series finale vs. the Tigers, and subsequently placed him on the injured list.
"He woke up not feeling well," Reds manager David Bell said after the lineup change but before the roster move was known. "That's all we know at this point, so we're hopeful that it's nothing. As you can imagine, we're just very hopeful that it's nothing and he'll be back. … Just to be really cautious. Hopefully, we're just being overly cautious. That's what we have to do, and that's part of being a great teammate at this point, is if there is any doubt, we have to stay home."
Center fielder Nick Senzel also reported not feeling well and was scratched from the lineup and replaced by Travis Jankowski.
Catcher Tyler Stephenson was recalled from the alternate workout site at Prasco Park to replace Moustakas. It’s the first time in the big leagues for Stephenson, who is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the organization’s No. 3 prospect. Later Sunday, the Reds claimed infielder Robel Garcia from the Cubs and optioned him to the alternate training site.
Under the rules, being on the COVID-19 related IL does not require a confirmed positive test for COVID-19. It can also happen if a player exhibits symptoms requiring self-isolation for further assessment.
“There’s obviously concern for the individuals and hoping everyone is OK,” Reds starter Trevor Bauer said after Sunday’s game. “Trying to keep everybody healthy is really important. We’re taking a lot of precautions for that, both obviously as a league and then as a team. Everyone is being smart and taking care of themselves and their teammates as well as they can, but this is the circumstance for this year.”
There is no minimum number of days for players to spend on the COVID-19 IL, but per Major League Baseball protocols, players need two negative tests at least 24 hours apart before he can be activated to play.
Even before the arrival of the pandemic, the Reds changed their team rules for players not feeling well after an outbreak of flu-like symptoms late last season. Players are instructed to call the trainers and stay away from the ballpark.
Josh VanMeter, originally the designated hitter in Sunday's lineup, shifted to second base to replace Moustakas.
As teammates have gotten ill, Bauer hasn’t questioned whether to keep playing.
“I’ve made the choice to come here and play. I’ll be here all season,” he said. “I know the risks involved. I’m here to play baseball. If I get sick, I get sick. I’ve accepted the fact that it might happen, so that’s all on that front. I’m fine with whatever the outcome is.”
Casali showed some power
After the Reds’ bullpen blew a lead to Detroit on home runs allowed by Robert Stephenson and Michael Lorenzen in the top of the seventh Saturday, the lineup responded in the bottom half of the frame, when Curt Casali hit a two-out solo home run to right-center field to make it 4-4 game.
“Yeah, I was pretty jacked up about that,” Casali said. “I'm not trying to hit home runs out there, but it felt good to just drive a ball. I put a good swing on the ball the first at-bat and lined out to left field, so I felt OK. For the second game in, for the ball to be coming off the bat like that, I'm pretty happy with it.
“At the time I was happy to tie the game, and if it wasn't me, it was going to be someone else. We have a lot of fight in this team, and you saw it at the very end as well.”
Loud talk = chippy dugouts?
Tempers flared at Wrigley Field during Saturday’s game between the Brewers and Cubs after Javier Baez was hit by a pitch. The difference from past seasons was it was easier for opposing players to hear the words being exchanged from both dugouts without a crowd. Players on both sides emerged from their dugouts, but order was quickly restored.
Benches-clearing incidents are strictly prohibited this season under MLB’s health and safety protocols. Bell wasn’t overly concerned about guarding against chirping from his club’s dugout.
“The game is competitive, and it’s emotional. It just has to be good and all that,” Bell said. “I definitely hope that anything like that is avoided. I’m confident it will be avoided. Knowing how competitive it is and how much it takes and all that, it’s still like the furthest thing from our mind. We’re just going out to try to win baseball games. I get why it could happen, but thinking about it right now, there are just so many more important things to think about. I’m confident we will avoid that.”
Congrats to the Barnharts
Tucker Barnhart and his wife, Sierra, welcomed their newborn son on Saturday. Benson Jude Barnhart joined the family at eight pounds, 13 ounces. Both mother and son were healthy, Barnhart reported on Twitter. The couple also has another young son, Tatum.