Friedl placed on injured list with broken left thumb

May 14th, 2024

PHOENIX -- The struggling Reds barely had time to enjoy having back contributing to their regular lineup and now they are faced with losing their center fielder again for several more weeks.

Friedl went on the 10-day injured list on Monday with a broken left thumb. It's terrible luck for the 28-year-old, who was only six games into his return from a fractured right wrist suffered on March 16 that had kept him out for six weeks.

"You can't control it. It's one of those freak things, just like the fracture at Spring Training. It's just part of baseball," Friedl said.

On the first pitch of the first inning from Kyle Harrison during Sunday's 6-5 loss to the Giants at Oracle Park, Friedl was hit on the hand by a fastball. After exiting the game, initial X-rays were inconclusive.

More imaging tests were performed on Monday morning in Phoenix, which revealed the break. Friedl, who felt an increasing level of pain overnight, wasn't too shocked the news was bad. But he was hoping it was somehow just a bruise.

"When I fractured my wrist, it was my first time ever breaking anything and I remember how that felt internally," he said. "It was hard to tell with my thumb because it was so numb. My nail was bruised up. Halfway up, my thumb was all numb and bruised up."

Friedl and the club were waiting for the results of an additional CT scan, which is expected to reveal the full extent of the break, before determining a timeline for a return.

For a Reds club that has lost 10 of its last 11 games and 13 of its previous 16 entering Monday's game vs. the Diamondbacks, it's more tough news to absorb.

"It sucks. He's an impact player and you don't ever want to lose a guy like that," president of baseball operations Nick Krall said. "He's a guy that really does make a difference to this ballclub, both in the clubhouse and on the field -- offensively and defensively."

Cincinnati called up corner outfielder Jacob Hurtubise from Triple-A Louisville to replace Friedl on the 26-man roster. For Hurtubise, ranked by MLB Pipeline as Cincinnati's No. 24 prospect, it marks his first big league call-up.

Like during Friedl's previous injury, Will Benson and Stuart Fairchild will split time in center field to get the Reds through his absence.

Roster attrition has been particularly hard on a Reds club that entered 2024 expecting to be playoff contenders. Besides Friedl, Matt McLain (left shoulder surgery) and Christian Encarnacion-Strand (fractured right hand) are also out of the lineup. Another expected contributor, third baseman Noelvi Marte, is serving an 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs.

Offensively, the Reds entered Monday ranked 29th out of 30 clubs in team batting (.215). Several key hitters -- including Elly De La Cruz, Spencer Steer and Benson -- have been mired in extended slumps.

Manager David Bell insisted it was not a time for his team to panic.

"That's not going to benefit us at all. With our team, it's not even a question. It's not even an option. You just move forward," Bell said. "Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. Every team goes through this stuff. We're no different."

If it's not time to panic, is it time to look for ways to add more offensive depth? Krall is keeping an eye on the market for opportunities to seek help, but nothing is imminent.

"Right now, we're just trying to figure out what we can do to best help this ballclub," Krall said. "I know we've lost some games the last two weeks. At the same time, we've been close a few times. We've lost a handful of one-run games that could have gone a different way. You win two of those games, it's a different feeling."

Meanwhile, the Reds will press on without Friedl -- again.

"It's May 13 and this team has handled a lot of adversity," Friedl said. "Just being back with these guys and back in the clubhouse, they've all handled it well. They show up every day ready to go. That's really all you can control."