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Senzel appears to be OK after foul ball hits face

Rookie has 3-4 stitches over left eye after exiting Reds' loss to Rangers
@m_sheldon
June 15, 2019

CINCINNATI -- A freak injury -- a foul ball that bounced up and hit his face -- forced Reds center fielder Nick Senzel out of Saturday’s game vs. the Rangers. The good news for Senzel is that he was not seriously injured. The bad news for Cincinnati is that it

CINCINNATI -- A freak injury -- a foul ball that bounced up and hit his face -- forced Reds center fielder Nick Senzel out of Saturday’s game vs. the Rangers. The good news for Senzel is that he was not seriously injured. The bad news for Cincinnati is that it went on to lose for the eighth time in its past 11 games, 4-3 to Texas at Great American Ball Park.

“He had a few stitches. As soon as the swelling goes down, he’s going to be fine,” Reds manager David Bell said.

Box score

Batting with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning against Mike Minor in a 1-1 count, Senzel fouled a slider down into the dirt. The ball bounced off his foot, went up and caught the rookie near his left eye. He spent a couple of moments holding his face while being looked over by head trainer Steve Baumann and manager Bell.

“It happened so fast. He had no chance to get out of the way,” Bell said.

Senzel walked off the field with Baumann, and Jose Peraza finished the at-bat, striking out on the next pitch from Minor. The strikeout was charged to Senzel. Peraza replaced Senzel in center field.

In the clubhouse following the game, Senzel was sporting a swollen eye. His eyelid had a small bandage that covered an estimated three or four stitches.

“I’ll try to throw some ice on it and get the swelling down,” Senzel said. “I don’t really think it’s that big of a deal. I just have to be able to fully see so I can hit.”

Bell was not sure if Senzel would be able to play in Sunday’s series finale, which the Reds need to win to avoid a three-game series sweep. If Senzel must sit out, Bell could turn to Peraza, Phillip Ervin or Jesse Winker to start in center field.

Since his May 3 promotion from Triple-A Louisville, where he was the organization’s top prospect, Senzel has injected a spark into the Reds' lineup. He has started all but one of his 37 games since his arrival.

Senzel finished the game 0-for-3 and is batting .266/.325/.481 with six home runs and 16 RBIs. He has collected hits in 28 of his games, mostly as the leadoff hitter, giving the club all the more reason to want him back quickly.

“It just depends on how quick the swelling goes down,” Bell said. “We’ll see in the morning, but nothing serious. Fortunately, he closed his eye in time.”

Roark provides seven innings

Reds starter Tanner Roark pitched seven innings and allowed four runs (two earned) with eight hits, no walks and five strikeouts while throwing a season-high 116 pitches. It came one game after Bell was criticized by starter Tyler Mahle for giving him a quick hook after 4 1/3 innings. On May 19 after a loss to the Dodgers, Roark himself voiced frustration about being pulled for a pinch-hitter after five innings.

On Saturday, Bell noted that he would have pinch-hit for Roark in the bottom of the fifth had the Reds put a runner on base. But once Kyle Farmer grounded out, Roark batted for himself and pitched the next two innings. He ended up retiring his final 10 batters in a row.

“That’s my M.O. and how I pitch. I get that second wind, or third wind even, when David let me stay in for the sixth and then the seventh,” said Roark, who is 4-6 with a 3.63 ERA in 14 starts. “I kept getting that confidence that he’s trusting me to keep going out there to do my job and put up a zero.”

First-inning errors by Joey Votto and Senzel helped the Rangers go up, 2-0. The Reds’ deficit stretched to 4-0 in the fourth on RBI singles by Jeff Mathis and Shin-Soo Choo. But Roark started to feel stronger as the night went on.

“The last two innings he pitched were as good as any I’ve seen him throw all year,” Bell said. “He takes a lot of pride in that. He works hard to be durable and finish strong like that.”

One-run losses pile up
With Roark keeping the Rangers from adding on more runs, the Reds got back into the game against lefty Mike Minor after Minor allowed no hits until the fourth. The first hit was a two-run homer to left field by Yasiel Puig, his 12th of the season. Curt Casali added a leadoff homer to left field off Minor in the seventh.

Puig nearly tied the score in the eighth when he smoked a drive to right-center field that was caught at the warning track. Cincinnati is now 9-15 in one-run games this season. They have the second-most one-run losses in the Majors.

“You can’t wait on the next guy to do something. You have to be that guy. It doesn’t matter if it’s hitting or bullpen or starters. The next guy has to pick up the next guy and just do it,” Roark said. “There’s nothing to go in depth about. We just need to trust one another and trust ourselves and believe we can do it and believe in ourselves.”

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.