Posted: 11:40 am Thursday, April 26th, 2018
By Staff Writer
CINCINNATI — There was a lot of unpacking and packing of travel gear in the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse Thursday morning.
Unpacking and hanging up clothes were Eugenio Suarez and Rosell Herrera, both added to the roster.
Packing and zipping up their bags were Phillip Ervin and Cliff Pennington, both optioned to Class AAA Louisville.
Not only was Suarez activated off the disabled list, he was in Thursday’s lineup, just 17 days after suffering a fractured thumb when he was hit by a pitch.
Herrera, a 25-year-old native of the Dominican Republic, drew attention to himself during spring training. He was originally signed by the Colorado Rockies but released after last season and signed by the Reds last November to a minor league contract.
The Miracle Worker return of Suarez so soon is something the Reds hope will inject some much needed fuel into the team’s sputtery offense.
“Suarez went through a couple of rehab games at (Class AAA) Louisville and got through those fine,” said manager Jim Riggleman. “He is one of those guys who is a quick healer. It was an injury that could have gone much longer.”
Said Suarez, “I feel real good and there is no pain at all in my thumb. I dom’t have to wear anything special, just the thumb pad I always wear.
“I was off a little bit on my timing in Louisville, but I’ll get that back real quick. I swung hard and didn’t have pain. I feel great all the time and I started throwing right away with no pain,” he added.
Suarez said there was no sense of urgency to get back quickly because of the plight of the team.
“Not really, I never think about that,” he said “I just think about being back as fast as I can. I didn’t rush for the team. I believe in my team. It is a bad moment right now, but the last three games were good and it is going to get better and better.”
Ervin had done an admirable job but the outfield is overcrowded and Riggleman said, “Once Scott Schebler got back Ervin was the fifth outfielder and we need him playing, need him to go down there and get some at bats.”
Herrera is a versatile player who signed as an infielder but can also play the outfield, a plus that aided in his promotion.
“He is a versatile guy who was very impressive in spring training,” said Riggleman. “He is a tall, lanky kid (6-3, 195) who can run. He swings from both sides of the plate. Primarily he played the outfield the last few years, but he signed as an infielder and has some time in the infield at Louisville, played all around. He gives us versatility and athleticism.”
Herrera was hitting .311 with five doubles, three homers and 10 RBI in 15 games at Louisville.
Herrera smiled broadly when he was asked how he found out about his first trip to the majors.
“I was playing a game on my cell phone at about 10:30 last night when I got a phone call and I didn’t know who it was,” he said. “It was the Triple-A trainer and he told me I got a call-up to the big leagues. It was amazing.”
Did he stop playing the game and what was it?
“I stopped and the game was MLB, The Show,” he said. He doesn’t have to play it on his cell phone any more, he is now part of The Show.
“I am able to play every position in the infield and the outfield and that’s big for me,” he said. “The team knows that and knows I can help the team in the outfield corners and play good defense. That’s what I am here for.
“I wasn’t expecting this, but now I have a chance to help the team, that’s my mentality right now, to help the team win,” Herrera added.
The bullpen is close to getting a fix, too. David Hernandez, signed over the winter, but on the disabled list since spring training with shoulder problems, could soon be activated.
“He is here but still on half-a-schedule, but he is really close,” said Riggleman.
Pennington takes a 0 for 20 slump with him to Louisville.
OF ALL THE NEGATIVES surrounding the team these days, one major positive is the play of outfielder Jesse Winker. Batting mostly leadoff, despite a lack of speed, Winker is hitting .311 with 19 hits and 14 walks. He has a .442 on-base average, fifth best in the National League.
“From the day he signed, Winker has been a hitter,” said Riggleman. “He has gone through the minor league levels and hit, he got here last year and hit. He is a very confident major league hitter.
“He is young (24) and the minor league system got him totally prepared to be here,” Riggleman added. “It is really nice to see a young hitter with his knowledge of the strike zone who can draw walks.