Todd Frazier appears bench-bound following Joey Votto’s return

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With a .294 average, 18 homers and 55 RBI in 313 at-bats, Todd Frazier has been the National League’s best rookie hitter this year. Still, the Reds might struggle to find a role for him after Joey Votto comes off the disabled list, the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Fay reports.

Reds manager Dusty Baker made it clear Wednesday that Scott Rolen will remain his third baseman after Votto reclaims first. Frazier started 51 games at third earlier this year while Rolen was ailing. He’s now started 26 at first base and five in left field.

Putting Frazier back in the outfield following Votto’s return is an option, but it doesn’t sound like Baker sees him as a starter there.

“We played him in the outfield some already. Where is he going to play in the outfield?” Baker said. “Is he a center fielder? We’ve got Jay Bruce, an All-Star, in right field. Is he going to play in front of Jay right now? (Ryan) Ludwick’s got 25 home runs? Is he going to play in front of Ludwick right now?

“Sometimes when you’re on really good team, you’ve got to wait your turn to play.”

Of course, the 26-year-old Frazier has waited his turn. And the fact is that he has 179 points of OPS on Rolen right now. At the very least, the Reds need to make sure he’s out there against lefties on a regular basis. He has a .957 OPS against them, compared to a .740 mark for Bruce.

Tigers sign Josh Thole to minors deal

Josh Thole
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The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.

Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.

While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.