It’ll be a few days before Brandon Phillips gets to start justifying the Reds’ $72.5 million commitment to him.
Manager Dusty Baker said Tuesday that Phillips would miss three or four days because of a sore left hamstring, the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Fay reports.
Phillips, for his part, said he was ready to play.
“His mind is telling him he can play,” Baker said. “But his body is telling him no. That’s the attitude you want but we’ve got to look at the big picture. This is the one thing you’re always fearful of early in the year when the weather turns — somebody pulling or tweaking something.”
In a minor surprise, Willie Harris is replacing Phillips at second base and in the leadoff spot today. Harris came up primarily as a second baseman, but he started just 16 games there from 2009-11. Miguel Cairo seemed the more likely choice to start.
Veteran role player Willie Harris has signed a minor-league deal with the Reds, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Harris played last season with the Mets, hitting .246 with two homers and a .668 OPS in 283 plate appearances, and reportedly drew interest from the Nationals earlier this offseason.
Harris is a career .240 hitter with little power, but he draws lots of walks and has posted an on-base percentage above .340 in four of the past five seasons. Toss in the 33-year-old’s ability to play anywhere but catcher and shortstop defensively and he’s a useful player to have on the bench.
Washington’s search for bench bats has led them to express interest in Mark DeRosa, Greg Dobbs, and Willie Harris, according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com.
Dobbs and Harris are left-handed hitters and strictly role players, while DeRosa is a right-handed hitter who was an everyday player before wrist problems derailed his career three years ago.
Chris Marrero is in danger of missing the first half with a torn hamstring, so DeRosa could be used as a platoon partner and/or fill-in for the left-handed-hitting Adam LaRoche at first base.
Ladson writes that beefing up the bench with capable bats is a priority for manager Davey Johnson, who “was not happy that it was built on speed and defense” in 2011.