7/9/2014 10:09 P.M. ET
Reds' bench starting to make its mark
By Mark Sheldon and Manny Randhawa / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- In the early part of the season, the Reds' bench was often underused and at times did not produce the desired results. Neither point could be made lately, however.
With Joey Votto on the disabled list and a doubleheader on Tuesday, reserve players have been needed more than ever by the Reds. And they've answered the bell.
Ramon Santiago, who started a game for the fourth day in a row when he played third base in place of Todd Frazier, went 3-for-4 in Game 2 of the doubleheader, a 6-5 win for Cincinnati over the Cubs. Chris Heisey was 3-for-3 in Game 1, while outfielder Skip Schumaker came into Wednesday's game 5-for-13 on the homestand and hitting .341 since June 15.
"It is a goal of mine to try to utilize the entire bench as much as I could this year, and I haven't done a great job of that," manager Bryan Price said on Wednesday. "I would like to have Chris Heisey and Ramon Santiago have more playing time and more at-bats at this point in time, and they don't. But the time is here now, it's definitely going to happen now, for sure. And if [Tuesday is] an indicator, they're certainly both ready to contribute significantly."
Santiago came in with 31 games played and 65 at-bats, by far the lowest among players that have been with the club all season. He has done his best to be ready.
"I always take extra hitting. I've killed the machine," Santiago said. "I get a lot of extra work with [hitting coach] Don Long to stay sharp. You never know when a situation is going to come and you'll be in there. You have to catch up with the other guys playing every day. Preparation is very important. Playing or not playing, I take my groundballs at third base, shortstop and second base. I take 25-30 minutes of groundballs every day. That's my cardio."
Schumaker believes a good bench is an important facet for a good team.
"The teams that I've been on that have won have always had strong benches," Schumaker said. Guys are going to get hurt, that's the nature of the game. With the platoon situation we have in the outfield, there are a lot of guys that could be playing every day that aren't and you haven't heard a peep out of any one of them. And that's just the sign of a good team. That's when you know you're winning, and everyone's on the same page, and that's a good feeling."
Hamilton, Phillips exit with injuries vs. Cubs
CINCINNATI -- Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton and second baseman Brandon Phillips both left Wednesday night's 4-1 victory against the Cubs with injuries.
Hamilton departed because of a tight left hamstring after he hit a foul ball during his seventh-inning at-bat. He was replaced in center field by Chris Heisey in the eighth.
"It's been going on for a couple of days," Hamilton said. "I'm feeling it the same way as when I hurt it in Spring Training. I felt it a little bit on the slide [during a stolen-base attempt in the third inning]. And then on the triple [in the fifth] I felt it again, but it's just something where I don't want to tell nobody about it.
"And then in that last at-bat when I was swinging right-handed, I stepped down and it pulled on me a little bit. And then I hit the ball and started running, that's when I felt it the most."
Hamilton said it's a day-to-day situation with the hamstring and he would see how he felt on Thursday morning before the series finale against Chicago.
"I think that's what happens when you get sprinters out there; he's so sinewy and there's not a lot of fat on him," manager Bryan Price said. "He's going to be that guy who's always going to be aware of being loose and limber and staying as loose as he can."
Phillips left in the eighth inning after spraining his left thumb while making a diving effort on a ground ball hit by Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. X-rays on Phillips' thumb were negative.
Rizzo hit the ball in the hole between first and second, and Phillips dove to his left, snared it and rolled over to make the throw, which wasn't in time. As he rolled over, Phillips hurt his thumb as his glove jammed into the ground during the play.
Ramon Santiago replaced Phillips after moving from third to second base, and All-Star Todd Frazier came in the game to play third.
After the game, Phillips was wearing a brace on his left thumb.
"He expected when he was laying out for that glove to just slide on the grass and it ended up where it stuck and kind of jammed on him and rolled that wrist and bent the thumb back," Price said. "I think with the sprain, it certainly can be more significant than we believe that it is at this time. But right now the initial signs are that hopefully it's not a brutal injury and that we can have him back sooner than later."
With first baseman Joey Votto already on the disabled list with a strained left quad, the Reds can ill afford serious injuries to key players such as Hamilton and Phillips.
"It makes it better that we're playing well because these guys are going to get a day and need the rest," Jay Bruce said. "Both Brandon and Billy are very big parts of the wheel we call the Reds here. We have to make sure they are healthy. We already lost Joey, obviously. Hopefully that is short and sweet as well. I'm hoping for the best."
Frazier out of starting lineup for just second time
CINCINNATI -- Reds All-Star third baseman Todd Frazier was out of Wednesday's lineup vs. the Cubs. The only other time he did not start this season was when he missed an April 26 game at Atlanta with a tight left groin.
"Since then, we've run him pretty hard. We had the doubleheader, and it just seemed like it made sense for a day off," Reds manager Bryan Price said.
Ramon Santiago started for Frazier, who was 7-for-25 on the homestand entering the night.
Hannahan doubles in first rehab game
CINCINNATI -- In his first rehab assignment game for Class A Dayton on Tuesday, corner infielder Jack Hannahan went 1-for-3 with an RBI double. Hannahan was the designated hitter, which will be his position for a while as the Reds have accelerated his timetable, somewhat.
"We're allowing him to go out and play before he's actually ready to play a position," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "The accelerated portion is on the front end where we're getting him at-bats before we're comfortable with him playing defense.
"Once the defense comes, he's going to start at first [base] and graduate to third base. If he can come here and do some things for us off the bench, even if he's not quite ready to play third base, it would at least be an option for us moving forward."
Hannahan still isn't throwing and would need to do cutoff relays and those types of plays before getting cleared to play defense. Hitting-wise, he's not considered close to returning to the Reds.
"He's not 15-20 at-bats from being able to help us here," Price said. "He's going to have to get significant playing time and at-bats to get ready to hit Major League pitching."
• Reds catcher/first baseman Brayan Pena, who reported a tender right forearm the past few days, said he did not feel discomfort any longer on Wednesday. Pena started at first base vs. the Cubs.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.