Reds ready to face injury challenges head-on
JUL 11, 2014 4:56p ET
CINCINNATI -- There is no "pity party" going on in the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse, not in the manager's office, not in the clubhouse proper, not in the training room, not in the dugout and not on the field.
First-year manager Bryan Price has every right to ask, "Why us?" or to slump in his chair and say, "Oh, woe is us?," but he won't even peer down that lonesome road.
When the Reds opened a three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates Friday night, second baseman Brandon Phillips was on the disabled list after surgery on his left thumb and first baseman Joey Votto was on the disabled list (strained quadriceps).
Shortstop Zack Cozart started the game with a wrap on his left hand after getting hit by a pitch Thursday. Catcher/first baseman Brayan Pena is carrying around an extremely sore left elbow.
Outfielder/infielder Skip Schumaker said, "I feel like I just came out of an NFL game," after he banged his shoulder against the right field Thursday trying to make a catch. Center fielder Billy Hamilton was in the lineup after not starting Thursday game with a tight hamstring.
After the Reds went through their bullpen during a 12-inning game Thursday, they recalled two pitchers from Class AAA Louisville, Carlos Contreras and Curtis Partch.
That put 14 pitchers on the roster, which meant Price began Friday's game with only three bench players and two are banged up (Pena, Schumaker).
Can it be any worse?
"Creativity is going to be in order, that's for sure," said Price. "These are the challenges of a season. We went through them in the first couple of months of the season and now we're back there again.
"A lot of it is perspective," said Price. "Our Reds support system -- our fan base and our ownership -- loves the Reds and wants us to go out there and win on a regular basis. And we're committed to that and we are going to do it with whatever hand we're dealt."
But the deck isn't full, some aces and kings are missing. And no matter how much Price shuffles the deck, too many face cards are missing.
"For me to stress over the face that we have only three bench players and a team that is banged up doesn't do any good," he said. "And I don't feel any extra pressure because of it because it is the hand we are currently dealt and we just play it. And to the credit of the players, they are playing their tails off."
With Phillips gone for six weeks, second base will be mannaed by Schumaker and Santiago. The common phrase used when a team loses star players and regular plays to for somebody to say, "Well, the other players just have to step up."
Don't say that to Schumaker.
"I hate the term, 'It is time for somebody to step up,'" said Schumaker. "That's the reason we all are got to the big leagues. You stepped it up your entire career or you wouldn't be here unless you are stepped up. That's what you should be doing anyways. Somebody is just going to play more. I'm getting an opportunity rather than stepping up."
Both Schumaker and Santiago know, though, that Phillips leaves a large footprint to cover at second base.
"We are going to try to get through it as best we can," said Schumaker. "Nobody is going to fill Brandon's shoes, let's be honest. He is pretty dang good over there. We'll do what we can to hold ground until he gets back."
Santiago, a 34-year-old veteran of infield play, spending the last seven years with the Detroit Tigers, began Friday night's game with a four-game hitting streak, including a three-hit game.
"I won't try to do too much, just go out there and try to pick him (Phillips) up," said Santiago. "I'll do my best every day. We are going to miss Brandon, no doubt about that. He is a great player and a great teammate and we'll miss his presence. But nobody is going to feel for us so we have to go out there and win with what we have.
"You don't feel happy for yourself over what happened because you are losing a great player," he said. "But I look forward for the opportunity and you look for the positive side. I will to take advantage of the opportunity."
Once the Reds get through Friday's game, it is likely a pitcher or two will be sent back to Louisville and bench help will be summoned for Saturday and Sunday.
"We had a bunch of guys who have pitched three days in a row -- Aroldis Chapman, Jonathan Broxton, Manny Parra -- and we've used J.J. Hoover in multiple innings in two of the last three," said Price. "So for today the two additions to the bullpen were necessary pieces for if we played another extra-inning game we woudn't be able to do it."