Gennett MRI: Bell 'hoping for the best'

Stephenson throws two more scoreless innings to boost bullpen bid

March 23rd, 2019

PHOENIX -- Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett appeared to suffer a right groin injury during Friday's 6-4 loss to the Brewers and he was forced to leave the game prematurely.

In the bottom of the second inning with lefty hitter Yasmani Grandal batting for Milwaukee, Gennett was playing in short right field on a defensive shift. He made an awkward sliding stop to his left on Grandal's grounder and threw him out at first base.

"It looked like he kind of rolled weird," said Reds bullpen candidate and Friday's starting pitcher Robert Stephenson, who covered first base on the play.

After the play, Gennett was down for a few moments and struggled to get to his feet or walk. He was helped off the field to the dugout by manager David Bell and head trainer Steve Baumann.

"I don't know exactly if it was when he fell or made the throw," Bell said. "It felt like we had a few different thoughts from the dugout. I didn't ask Scooter. He definitely felt something in his groin."

During the top of the third inning, Gennett was taken away from the field on a golf cart and went for an MRI exam. The results were not known immediately after the game.

"I'm obviously concerned," Bell said. "But it really doesn't make a whole lot of sense to speculate. I'm sure we'll find out soon enough. He's a huge part of our team, we all know that."

Gennett, the Reds' leadoff hitter vs. the Brewers, was 0-for-2 in the game and batting .333 in 15 spring games. Minor Leaguer Carlos Rivero replaced Gennett at second base.

Gennett came to the Reds on a waiver claim from Milwaukee just ahead of the 2017 regular season, and he has put together back-to-back career years. Last season, he batted .310/.357/.490 with 23 home runs and 92 RBIs while being valued at 4.2 wins above replacement.

Non-roster veteran players Jose Iglesias and Derek Dietrich, who are both expected to make the team with bench roles, could fill in for Gennett on a short-term basis. Top prospect Nick Senzel, who was sent to the Minors among Friday morning's roster moves, played mostly second base with Triple-A Louisville last season. But Senzel, who was vying for the regular center fielder's job, hasn't played in the infield all spring.

Bell was not ready to discuss contingency plans.

"I've kind of avoided letting thoughts circulate in my head out of respect for how important Scooter is to our team," Bell said. "We're just hoping for the best right now. Obviously, it's concerning. You never know. We'll find out soon enough."

Stephenson in contention

In his first start of the spring, and second appearance overall, Stephenson delivered two scoreless innings vs. Milwaukee on Friday with one hit and one strikeout. Stephenson also threw a scoreless inning in his first outing on Tuesday vs. the White Sox.

"I was happy with how it went," Stephenson said. "I thought that my off-speed wasn't quite as sharp as I would like today. But for the most part, it was decent and I thought my fastball was really good. I was happy about that."

Stephenson is one of five pitchers vying for the final two bullpen spots with Matt Wisler, Wandy Peralta, Matt Bowman and Anthony Bass. Both Stephenson and Wisler are out of Minor League options. Stephenson, who has often struggled during his previous big league stints, was limited for most of camp because of right shoulder inflammation.

"With the injury, I wanted to make sure I took it slow and make sure I give myself the best opportunity to make this team," Stephenson said. "I'm happy about the progression I've made. I felt really comfortable when I came in and where I was at. I think the spring went really well for me. I just want to make it as tough of a decision as possible on the team. I felt like I did that."

Up next

In the penultimate game of the Cactus League schedule, the Reds play the Indians at 4:05 p.m. ET as the visitors in Goodyear Ballpark. Freshly named fifth starter Tyler Mahle will make the start for Cincinnati.