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.