Brandon Phillips still out of Reds’ lineup Sunday

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From Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette comes word that Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips is out of the starting lineup again for Sunday’s series-finale against the Pirates.

Wilson Valdez will get the nod in his place, batting seventh against Bucs right-hander A.J. Burnett.

Phillips hasn’t started a game this month due to a left calf strain that he suffered near the end of July. But he is still expected to avoid the 15-day disabled list and should return at some point early this week.

The 31-year-old is hitting .296 with a .793 OPS, 13 home runs and 62 RBI in 92 games this season.

Cincinnati has the best record in baseball and leads Pittsburgh by 5 1/2 games in the NL Central standings.

Reds ink Oliver Perez to a minor-league deal

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The Reds have signed free agent reliever Oliver Perez to a minor-league contract, the team announced Saturday. The deal comes with a major-league invite and could be worth $1.25 million if Perez secures a roster spot this spring, with an additional $500,000 in potential performance bonuses.

Perez, 36, is coming off of a two-year run with the Nationals. He produced a 4.64 ERA, 3.3 BB/9 an d10.6 SO/9 through 50 relief appearances and 33 innings with the club in 2017. The veteran lefty hasn’t kept an ERA under 4.00 in at least four seasons, but he continues to be undeniably solid against left-handed batters, holding them to a .227/.301/.364 batting line over 18 1/3 innings last year.

While returning southpaw Wandy Peralta appears to have locked down a bullpen spot already, Perez will still compete for another role against fellow left-handers Cody Reed and Amir Garrett, both of whom also have experience in the rotation. If Perez doesn’t break camp with the team, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon notes, he’ll be permitted to opt out of his contract. The Reds are currently looking to bounce back from a dismal performance in 2017, one in which their bullpen ranked 28th among major league teams with a collective 5.63 ERA and -1.2 fWAR.