'Complete and utter shock': Friedl's MLB call

Righty Warren returns from IL to help bolster bullpen

September 19th, 2021

CINCINNATI -- For a little while Friday evening, as Triple-A Louisville played a close game at Memphis in the middle innings, outfielder TJ Friedl was baffled when manager Pat Kelly pulled him out in a double switch.

Afterwards, Friedl found out the reason. And it was a really good one.

"[Kelly] was like, 'You want to know the real reason why I pulled you out of the game?' I was like, 'Yeah, I'd love to.' Because at the time, I was very confused,” Friedl explained Sunday. “He was like, 'Because you’re going up to the big leagues.' It's a moment you dream of your whole life. Everything just stood still in that moment and I was in complete and utter shock. A couple of teammates were waiting outside of Pat Kelly's office and came storming in as soon as he said that, and then the rest of my teammates were sitting outside his office waiting to congratulate me. So it was a very special moment with all of those guys.”

Along with reliever Art Warren, Friedl made an early flight from Memphis to a connection in Chicago before getting to Cincinnati late Saturday morning. He bumped into his mother at baggage claim at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

“She's wearing my Friedl Spring Training jersey, and I was just in the airport and I stopped Art and I was like, 'Wait a minute, that's my mom.' I knew she was landing about the same time,” Friedl said. “[Warren] saw that jersey. He's like, 'Dude, we have to surprise her.' So I got a really good video of that one. I just randomly tapped her on the shoulder, and she turned around and she was shocked.”

“That was cool for me to witness that, his mom being there for his callup. That was pretty sweet,” Warren said.

Friedl, 26, made his Major League debut as a pinch-hitter in Saturday’s 5-1 loss to the Dodgers. In the eighth inning against reliever Joe Kelly, he popped out to the middle of the infield.

“It's definitely hard to get rid of those butterflies and the nerves. I was prepared,” Friedl said. “I had a feeling. Once I knew I was activated, I knew there was the chance to pinch-hit. There's always a chance to get in the game whether it's defense or whatever it may be. I went to hit with Tyler Stephenson and some of the guys and just [stayed] ready to hit. That helped calm the nerves a lot and just made it more like a normal day in the life of a baseball player.”

With Louisville, Friedl slashed .264/.357/.422 with 12 homers and 36 RBIs in 113 games.

Cincinnati needs Friedl’s left-handed bat and outfield experience after Jesse Winker and Shogo Akiyama both went on the 10-day injured list Saturday.

“Today wasn’t the day to start a game, but he will get some starts,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He will be a left-handed bat off the bench. A left-handed-hitting outfielder, he’ll enter games midgame. He’ll serve in every role. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing him play. We’ll look for opportunities to see him play. He’s here because he’s been playing really well, he’s been swinging the bat well. He can hit a fastball. Just a solid player. It’s nice to see him get his first at-bat yesterday and we’ll go from there.”

Warren returns impressively

Warren completed his rehab assignment and was activated from the 60-day IL on Saturday. The right-hander had been out since July 15 with a left oblique strain and wanted to get back to playing in pivotal September games in a pennant chase.

“I am glad to be back, but I didn’t think it would take this long,” Warren said. “It was motivating me and getting [me] through every day, grinding and working hard, so I could possibly help this team make a playoff push. That was exhilarating within itself.”

Warren pitched the top of the eighth inning vs. the Dodgers. He gave up a two-out single to Justin Turner, but he struck out his other three batters.

“I think it means a lot. First of all, coming off the IL was a blessing in itself,” Warren said. “Yesterday, I didn’t expect that outing. I don’t really have words for that. It was cool. I was just glad to be back on the mound trying to help this team win.”

In 19 appearances entering Sunday, Warren was 2-0 with a 1.76 ERA.

“He looked good. He looked like he did before he was injured,” Bell said. “No hesitation, attacked the strike zone and he’s been doing that in Triple-A, as well. He showed that he was healthy and he showed that he was pitching with confidence just like he was in the past. It’s great to have him back.”