CINCINNATI — The season is only 19 games old and unfortunately it already seems like a summer rerun of their own documentary — The Summer of 2014.
After a litany of injuries ruined their opportunities last season, it has begun again.
First, it was catcher Devin Mesoraco’s hip that has prevented him catching since the first week of the season.
And now it is pitcher Homer Bailey, placed on the disabled list Monday with a right elbow ligament sprain. While the club is not saying it, Tommy John surgery lurks in the background for the 28-year-old right-hander who owns two no-hitters.
What is so devastating to Bailey is that he spent all winter and most of spring training rehabilitating his surgically repaired right forearm.
The elbow ligament is an entirely different injury and rehabbing from possible Tommy John surgery is a 12 to 18-month process.
So the challenges are surfacing early for manager Bryan Price and his Reds after he got to use his projected starting lineup for last season only 12 times all year.
Taking Bailey’s place and starting Wednesday afternoon against Milwaukee will be Michael Lorenzen, a hard-throwing right-hander making his major league debut.
"We’re definitely being challenged," said Price. "But as you look around most teams get challenged during the course of the year. We were challenged more than most last year.
"But you are only as good as you think you are. We have to continue to believe we have an outstanding team, because I believe we do," he added. "We have to test our system, too, to see where we are. We’ve evaluated some of our pitchers at a very high level. We think highly of Lorezen, as we do of Raisel Iglesias, Robert Stephenson, Jon Moscot and David Holmberg."
And while Brayan Pena will do the bulk of the catching during Mesoraco’s absence from behind the plate, Price said, "Tucker Barnhart will play a role until Devin gets back, catching every third or fourth day and have some influence on the success of our ball club."
Price, Mr. Good Thoughts when it comes to being optimistic, boldly said, "I think we can weather the current position we’re in."
In fact, Price tries to put a plus on the situation.
"We can use it as a rallying point," he said.
What the Reds have to do is to not have individual players try to do too much, try to take up the slack by themselves.
"You can look back on last year as a gauge and a reflection of that," said Price. "There were certain guys who just tried to throw the team on their backs and carry it. It is just not that type of game. It is nice when a hitter gets hot for 10 days and hits six homers and drives in 12 runs. You say, ‘Man, that guy really carried the offense.’ But there are guys on base, other guys contributing to the hot guy’s damage.
"It is an impossible game to take over as an individual if you are not a pitcher," Price added. "A starting pitcher can take over a ball game but it is lot harder for a position player."
On Bailey, Price said the team is still gathering information to come to a conclusion. While he mentioned possible surgery, he said there are other options.
"We have to make decisions on which way to attack this," he said. "He won’t be pitching in the near future. One is significant time lost (Tommy John surgery) and the other would be less significant time lost. There are other options."
Mike Leake was scheduled to pitch Wednesday, but he is being moved back to Thursday in Atlanta because it is Lorenzen’s turn to pitch.
"We’ve had our sights set on Michael for a long time, especially when he came to spring and threw the ball really well. We think he is mature and ready to handle this challenge."