CINCINNATI -- As he works his way back from a severely strained right groin, Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett was taking batting practice on the field with the team Friday. Meanwhile, Gennett continues to increase the intensity and range as he takes ground balls each day.
On Saturday, Gennett was ranging to his right to backhand grounders. He was also moving to his left and running in and barehanding balls and throwing to first base.
“We’re trying to put together a plan for what happens when we go on the road [Friday],” Reds manager David Bell said. “Is it best for him to go on the road or go somewhere else? He’s probably two or three weeks away from playing [rehab assignment] games, but that’s pretty close.”
Before Gennett can play in games, there will be some final tests. That includes raising the intensity even higher to how he takes grounders, and he will have to run the bases without issues.
“I think once that happens we’re going to make sure he plays enough games, but with his level of confidence in his offense, we’re not going to make him stay longer,” Bell said. “Once he gets to that sweet spot about what the right amount of games would be … it will come quick.”
Currently on the 60-day injured list, Gennett was injured trying to field a ground ball on March 22 during a Spring Training game. In his absence, the Reds initially adjusted by making Jose Iglesias the starting shortstop and shifting Jose Peraza from shortstop to second base. Derek Dietrich has since overtaken Peraza as the more regular second baseman and leads the club in home runs in what’s been a breakout season.
Finding playing time and a spot for Dietrich will require some effort.
“Obviously, Scooter is going to be playing. But at the same time, Dietrich has become a big part of our offense,” Bell said. The good thing with Derek is that he can play other positions. He can play the outfield, first base, third base. We haven’t seen him play much third or the outfield, but there will be ways to make it happen. We’ll have to. The way Derek is swinging the bat, he’s become a big part of the offense. We all know what Scooter can do.”
An All-Star in 2018, Gennett batted .310/.357/.490 with 23 home runs and 92 RBIs after he hit 27 homers with 97 RBIs in '17.
It was pointed out that the Cubs found ways to mix and match players in multiple positions and had 10 players reach at least 400 plate appearances last season. Bell was the third-base coach for Cubs manager Joe Maddon in 2013 and worked often against him as a Cardinals coach from '14-17.
“Watching how Joe Maddon does that with their team helped me realize how possible it was to get more than just the regular eight guys and make it to where 10 or so are everyday players in a way,” Bell said. “I think it is a trend, but in today’s game, there’s an importance to keeping guys healthy and being able to maximize your players each day. I think it makes a lot of sense. I like having the versatility. It just works itself out.”