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.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.
McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).
McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.