Reds shift Jay Bruce to first base with Joey Votto out

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Jay Bruce has been exclusively an outfielder in the majors and minors, playing there for each of his 1,257 professional games, but with first baseman Joey Votto likely headed to the disabled list Reds manager Bryan Price has Bruce starting at first base tonight against the Cubs.

Previously when Votto was sidelined the Reds used backup catcher Brayan Pena as their primary first baseman, but he’s currently on the paternity list. Once he returns it’ll be interesting to see if Pryce may also have realized how much that hurt the lineup considering Pena’s paltry offensive numbers.

For tonight at least the Reds are using Skip Schumaker in right field even though he actually has some past experience at first base. Schumaker isn’t much of a hitter either, but his lifetime .711 OPS is still 50 points higher than Pena’s career mark.

However, Bruce is considered an excellent defensive right fielder, so it’s not so clear if moving him to first base is worth whatever tradeoff comes with swapping Schumaker for Pena offensively.

Yu Darvish suffers setback during rehab start

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Cubs starter Yu Darvish suffered a setback during Sunday’s rehab start with Low-A South Bend, The Athletic’s Jon Greenberg reports. Darvish threw just 19 pitches in the first inning and felt fine. However, when he took the mound to warm up ahead of the second inning, Darvish “felt something” in his injured right elbow. He exited the game to undergo an MRI.

Darvish’s condition isn’t yet known, but it’s obviously bad news. Darvish signed a six-year, $126 million contract in February and has made just eight starts this season. He owns a 4.95 ERA with 49 strikeouts and 21 walks in 40 innings and hasn’t pitched since May 20.

Darvish said he hopes to return before the end of the regular season to help the team. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is realistic about the situation. He said, “It’s a process. We’ll see how he feels. It’s been a long road back, so there’s no point in rushing it now. We probably have one chance given where we are on the calendar to get this right, so that’s the priority.”

Mike Montgomery has pitched out of the rotation in Darvish’s place but he is also currently on the disabled list. Tyler Chatwood, with a 5.22 ERA and 93 walks in 101 2/3 innings, was booted from the rotation at the end of July after the Cubs acquired Cole Hamels. The Cubs, entering Sunday 20 games over .500 and fewer than five games ahead of the Cardinals and Brewers in the NL Central, need some reliability at the back of the rotation.