6/24/2014 8:55 P.M. ET
Leake taking extra BP reps in effort to find stroke
By Joe Popely / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Right-hander Mike Leake was spotted taking batting practice before Monday's 6-1 win over the Cubs, a rarity for a starter not pitching that day.
Leake maintained that he wasn't working on anything in particular, adding that Reds manager Bryan Price wanted him to get loose in case starter Alfredo Simon couldn't go deep in the game and Price needed Leake as an early pinch-hitter.
That said, Price saw an opportunity to help out Leake, who hasn't hit as well this season as he normally does. Brandon Phillips didn't play Monday because of his bruised right heel, so there was a spot for Leake.
A career .238 hitter, Leake didn't get to hit much in Spring Training due to an abdominal strain.
"So we really stayed away from doing much with the bat, and I think he felt when the season started he was behind offensively," Price said. "Sometimes when you're talking about pitchers it would fall on deaf ears, but because he's been such a nice offensive piece, we'd like to see if we can get him more reps and see if he can pick it up a little bit.
"It's not like him to strike out and not have more productive at-bats, so it seemed to make sense to get him in there."
Leake is hitting .152 with 18 strikeouts in 33 at-bats this season. He hit .333 in 48 at-bats in 2010, and .295 in 61 at-bats in 2012 before dipping to .190 in 63 at-bats last season.
Stephenson, Winker to compete in Futures Game
CHICAGO -- Rosters for the 2014 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game were announced Tuesday afternoon, and two Reds prospects were named to the U.S. team.
Right-hander Robert Stephenson and outfielder Jesse Winker, teammates at Double-A Pensacola, earned two of the 25 available roster spots.
Now in its 16th year, the Futures Game pits top Minor Leaguers against each other, with a team of U.S. prospects competing against a World Team of international prospects. This year's game will be played at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 13, at Target Field.
There are currently 244 players (152 from the U.S. team and 92 from the World team) from the previous 15 Futures Games on active rosters or disabled lists of Major League teams.
That includes the Reds' Jay Bruce, who participated in the 2007 Futures Game, Ryan Ludwick ('01), Brandon Phillips ('02) and Joey Votto (2006-07).
"It was really the first taste of what the Majors Leagues, what you could expect or hope for it to be like in the Major Leagues," said Bruce, who tripled in the 2007 game. "For that one day, it was kind of a Major League treatment on a Major League field, and you hadn't been in that situation before. It was basically each team's best prospect at the time, and it was a blast, man."
The left-handed-hitting Winker was recently promoted to Pensacola after hitting .317/.426/.580 with 13 home runs and 49 RBIs in 53 games for Class A Advanced Bakersfield. The 20-year-old was drafted in the first round (49th overall) by the Reds in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Olympia High School in Orlando, Fla.
Stephenson, a 21-year-old righty, has posted a 3.97 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings rate in 15 appearances (14 starts) for Pensacola. The Reds' first-round selection (27th overall) in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Stephenson notched a 3.06 ERA in 179 1/3 innings across four levels in his first two seasons, reaching Pensacola at the end of the 2013 campaign.
"Enjoy it. Take it all in. Play hard," Bruce said as advice for participants. "Have a blast, and use it as motivation to get back."
Marshall undergoes season-ending surgery
CHICAGO -- Reliever Sean Marshall underwent season-ending arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday morning to clean out his left shoulder and infuse stem cells to facilitate healing.
"Very, very optimistic feeling that the surgery went well and that we can be optimistic about a full recovery," manager Bryan Price said.
The Reds acquired Marshall from the Cubs via trade before the 2012 season, in which he posted a 2.51 ERA in 61 innings as the club's setup man. Since that successful debut season with Cincinnati, he's had trouble staying on the field because of shoulder issues.
Marshall was twice placed on the disabled last season, and ultimately pitched just 10 1/3 innings. The left-hander opened the 2014 season with a sore shoulder and was activated on April 19, only to land on the DL again Saturday with more soreness.
The Reds moved Marshall to the 60-day DL on Friday when it became clear surgery was necessary. He tossed just 14 innings this season, posting a 7.71 ERA.
Hot-hitting Frazier deserving of All-Star attention
CHICAGO -- Todd Frazier leads or is in the top five of many offensive categories among National League third basemen, yet he remains outside the top five in All-Star voting at his position.
Entering Tuesday, Frazier was leading NL third basemen in home runs (17), slugging percentage (.525) and extra-base hits (33), while ranking second in average (.284), second in RBIs (45) and fourth in on-base percentage (.350).
Frazier is blocked at the position by Milwaukee's Aramis Ramirez, New York's David Wright, San Francisco's Pablo Sandoval, St. Louis' Matt Carpenter and Colorado's Nolan Arenado.
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 11:59 p.m. ET. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15 on FOX.
There's still time to push Frazier up the list. If not, he's a good candidate for the Final Vote.
• Reds first baseman Joey Votto, a four-time All-Star and the 2010 NL MVP, sees Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo as deserving of an appearance in this year's Midsummer Classic. The two met through mutual friend Casey Kelly, a starter for San Diego Padres, and worked out this past offseason.
"He's played like -- he's probably going to be an All-Star this year. He's worthy of it," Votto said. "He's played really quite well, and I hope he continues it because he's set himself up this year for long-term success."
• This is the Reds third three-game series at Wrigley Field that features all night games. The most recent such series was from Sept. 17-19, 2007.
• Entering play Tuesday, Billy Hamilton was leading NL rookies in multi-hit games (18), runs (38), hits (69) and stolen bases (31).
• Brandon Phillips missed his second consecutive game Tuesday due to a bruised right heel. Phillips performed some baseball activities before the game, and Price was hoping to insert him into the lineup had he felt good enough.
Joe Popely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.