Marlins, Reds aim to snap out of post-ASG doldrums
CINCINNATI — Jose Urena is hoping for a better start on Friday against the Reds in Cincinnati than his last appearance at Great American Ball Park.
The Miami Marlins right-hander, the scheduled starter in the opener of a three-game series and the first game of a six-game road trip, can’t do much worse than his start on Aug. 16 of last season.
Urena (7-4), in his only career appearance against the Reds, got the first two batters before giving up five runs, four on Cincinnati catcher Tucker Barnhart’s only career grand-slam. Urena regrouped to turn in five shutout innings, but the deficit was too much to overcome as Miami was hung with a 6-3 loss.
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Right-hander Homer Bailey, Cincinnati’s projected starter, will be making his sixth start since coming off the disabled list on June 24 after undergoing surgery in February to remove bone spurs from his right elbow.
Bailey (2-3) is coming off a start last Sunday against Washington in which he allowed eight hits and eight runs, including two Daniel Murphy home runs, while not recording an out in the fifth inning. Bailey is 2-1 in eight career starts against the Marlins.
The Marlins won their last three games going into the All-Star break, but they have lost five of their first six since, including two of three at home to a Phillies team that, even after winning the series, still had the major leagues’ worst record.
The Marlins won’t be the only team in the weekend series for which the All-Star break proved to be a speed bump. The Reds went 3-0-1 in their last four series before the All-Star break, but they are 1-6 during a 10-game homestand and have watched rampaging opponents reach double figures in runs in four of the six losses.
If there were any doubts, the Marlins made it clear on Thursday which way they’re leaning as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches. They traded relief pitcher David Phelps to the Seattle Mariners for four prospects.
“As we look towards the rest of the season, we wanted to see if we could get value for certain assets,” Marlins President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill told the Miami Herald.
The Reds haven’t made any deals yet. Shortstop Zack Cozart’s name is most frequently mentioned, placing him in the same boat right fielder Jay Bruce manned last season before he was sent to the Mets. Reds manager Bryan Price sees similarities in the two players.
“I thought Jay handled it well last year, and it was tough,” Price said. “One thing I’ve noticed in the eight years I’ve been with the Reds is guys, especially the ones that come through the system, they don’t want to leave. It doesn’t matter who it’s been.”
Cozart’s status could depend on whether he stays hot and healthy. The All-Star sat out Thursday, resting the right quad that sent him to the disabled list in June, but he was 7-for-10 with two doubles and two home runs in his previous two games.
“There is hope that something can be worked out,” Price said. “Zack also has an opportunity to go out there and test free agency for the first time. That might end up being a robust opportunity. I think the challenges here are a little bit different, but I think he has handled it marvelously to this point. I admire him for that.”