From Tom Groeschen of the Cincinnati Enquirer comes word that Reds shortstop Zack Cozart was diagnosed on Saturday afternoon with a “slight oblique strain” and has already been ruled out of the team’s entire weekend series with the Astros.
Cozart’s injury should be healed by early next week, but the Reds currently boast an 8 1/2-game lead over the Cardinals in the NL Central standings and will probably play it as safe as possible with their rookie shortstop.
Cozart, 27, has posted a .243/.285/.402 batting line with 15 home runs, 32 doubles and 32 RBI in 127 games played this season. Wilson Valdez is filling in at shortstop on Saturday night against Houston.
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.
Brandon Phillips came back and played Monday after leaving Sunday’s game with a cramp in his left calf, but it appears he made the injury a whole lot worse tonight.
MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon has the quotes from the Reds second baseman:
The calf is no bueno right now. I tried to play [Monday] because the [10-game] win streak was gorgeous and I wanted to keep it going, so I tried to man up and go out there and play. I hurt it [Monday] just playing, period.
To tell you the truth, I’m not going to be playing for a while. Dr. [Kremchek, Medical Director] looked at it and he said it was worse than what they expected. I didn’t know. I just knew it felt bad.
The Reds are already without their best player in Joey Votto, and now their second best could join him on the DL. Of course, they haven’t missed a beat without Votto, but Phillips will be a bit more difficult to replace at second base. Light-hitting veterans Wilson Valdez and Miguel Cairo are the team’s fallbacks at the position.
If Phillips lands on the DL, 22-year-old second baseman Henry Rodriguez could be called up to make his major league debut. Triple-A Louisville’s other middle infielder, Didi Gregorius, is a more promising prospect, but his experience at second base consists of one appearance in a minor league game in 2009.
It wasn’t pretty, but in many ways, Chris Davis had the most remarkable day on a baseball field that I can ever remember.
Starting at DH for the Orioles, Davis fanned in his first five at-bats, hit into a double play in his sixth and grounded out in his seventh before moving to the mound to pitch scoreless 16th and 17th innings and picking up a win in a 9-6 game against the Red Sox.
Davis very nearly took the loss in the 16th, but Marlon Byrd was gunned down at home plate on Mike Aviles’ double with two outs. The Red Sox then turned to a position player of their own in the 17th, and Darnell McDonald surrendered a three-run homer to Adam Jones, giving the Orioles a 9-6 lead.
After Jones’ homer, Davis grounded out, making him 0-for-8 on the day.
The bottom of the 17th started with an infield single off Davis’ glove and a Dustin Pedroia walk, but Adrian Gonzalez struck out on three pitches to put a cap on his own 0-for-8 day and McDonald grounded into a double play to end it.
Davis became the first position player to win a game since Philadelphia’s Wilson Valdez got a victory in the 19th inning of a game last May 25. Before that, the last to do it was Rockies catcher Brent Mayne in 2000.
Davis started his outing showing a 90-91 mph fastball, but he quickly faded into the mid-80s in the 17th. Of course, it still worked out for him. McDonald was sitting in the 81-83 mph range in his inning of work.
Despite having three opportunities, Davis managed to avoid picking up his sixth strikeout. He could have been just the eighth player to reach that mark (dating back to 1918) and the first since Milwaukee’s Geoff Jenkins in 2004.
Not so long ago Wilson Valdez got all kinds of undeserved credit for the Phillies’ success, but now they’ve traded the light-hitting utility man to the Reds for left-handed reliever Jeremy Horst.
Valdez has topped 300 plate appearances in each of the past two seasons despite hitting just .254 with a .300 on-base percentage and .351 slugging percentage, but the 34-year-old figures to see much less action in Cincinnati.
Horst made his big-league debut with the Reds last season, appearing in 12 games, but at 26 years old he’s a marginal prospect with middle relief upside. In other words, he’s a fair return for Valdez.