CINCINNATI -- As the Reds' offense has lagged over the first month-plus of the 2019 season, a key missing ingredient has been second baseman Scooter Gennett. The '18 All-Star has been out since he strained his right groin on March 22 during a Spring Training game, and he's on the 60-day injured list.
It’s been a slow and steady rehabilitation for Gennett, but there is progress. Being able to do baseball activity again appears not too far away.
“I’m getting better each day and able to do more stuff in the training room,” Gennett said on Monday. “I would say, in probably a week or two weeks, I will be out in the field doing stuff like [fielding] ground balls, maybe swing the bat. But as of right now, it will definitely be after that date I’m eligible to come off [the IL, on May 27].”
Upon the diagnosis of the severe strain, Gennett was expected to miss two to three months.
“It will probably have to feel 100 percent for a week or two before they let me come back. That’s how it is,” Gennett said. “From what I’ve heard, it’s going to feel better than it actually is. It’s going well. I would say we’re over halfway home.”
Gennett has been a steady presence in the clubhouse during home games, and he can be in the dugout again now that he is no longer on crutches. Although gradually increasing his workload on a treadmill, he has not been cleared to run outside or do anything aggressive that might aggravate the injury.
“It’s just really smart to not do something that sets me back, like a slip,” Gennett said. “Walking is perfectly fine. When I was jogging the other day, I felt fine. But there are certain movements that we’re continuing to do where I can tell it’s still weak. It’s not strong yet, which is expected. For me to go into side shuffles and stuff like that, we’re not there yet.”
Peraza starts in left field
Before Friday, the last time that second baseman/shortstop José Peraza roamed left field in a game was during the 2016 season for eight games. He appeared in left field during the 10th and 11th innings of Friday’s loss to the Giants. On Monday in the four-game series finale, Peraza got a start there.
“With the situation we have now, we liked it,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He’s played out there before. He’s gotten some work out there. He can run. He’s an athlete. We’re doing everything we can to give us our best chance every single day. He’s up for it.”
When Gennett was injured, the Reds opted to move Peraza from shortstop to second base and start José Iglesias at short. Both Iglesias and fellow camp signee Derek Dietrich have been big contributors for the club, and Bell wants to keep both bats in the lineup as often as possible. Dietrich can play multiple positions, but his best one is second base.
Bell said he was not looking to wait for Gennett’s return to the infield to move Peraza to the outfield.
“It’s going to take all of us, everybody,” Bell said. “The willingness to do what it takes for the team to give us our best chance today, and keep it that simple, really. That’s how we have to do it. Guys are doing a great job of seeing it that way.”
Lineups will keep changing
As the Reds played their 35th game of the season on Monday, Bell wrote out his 32nd starting lineup. Some fans have chafed about the daily changes to the batting order on social media, but there will likely continue to be alterations throughout the season -- especially with a handful of players able to play multiple positions and Bell trying to maximize matchups.
By comparison, the World Series-winning Red Sox used 134 lineups in 2018.
“It’s just different, depending on who we’re facing, the opposing starter, how the opposing bullpen is structured, who needs rest, who is available. There are so many factors,” Bell said. “I believe it gives us the edge we need every day to be able to approach it like that, have a group of guys that are willing to -- starting with Joey Votto -- for it to not be a big deal. He’s willing to do what it takes to help our team win. That makes it possible. I believe it gives us our best chance every day.
“How everyone thinks and buys in is equally important to me. When you have a great player like that, that sees it like that, where he’s willing to do whatever it takes, it’s a great example.”