8/9/2014 7:25 P.M. ET
With Pena iffy, Reds call up Barnhart, option Lutz
By Mark Schmetzer / Special to MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- Brayan Pena's unavailability due to a tight left hamstring was just one reason the Reds optioned infielder-outfielder Donald Lutz to Triple-A Louisville before Saturday's game and recalled catcher Tucker Barnhart for the fourth time this season.
"I think the move served two purposes," manager Bryan Price said. "One, it put us in a situation where we have coverage until Brayan's OK, where we have coverage if something happened to Devin [Mesoraco] or we needed to pinch-run late in the game, we'd know we have Tucker ready to step in and do a great job. We wouldn't know that about Brayan. We certainly wouldn't want to have Brayan back there today.
"The other part is Donald needed to go play. He hadn't started a game this month and had one pinch-hit at-bat. He needs to be playing. I'm sure we'll see him back in September, if not sooner."
The switch-hitting Barnhart made a total of 12 appearances, including nine starts, during his first three stints with the Reds, hitting .152 with one home run. He last played for Cincinnati in a start on July 10 against the Cubs before being optioned to the Bats to make room for Lutz, who has hit .212 in 18 games with the Reds. He made five starts at first base, two in left field and one as a designated hitter.
Barnhart, 23, has hit .235 with one homer and 25 RBIs in 67 games with Louisville.
Reds hope ailing Pena can return to catch Cueto
CINCINNATI -- Reds manager Bryan Price hopes that Brayan Pena will be able to take his regular turn behind the plate with Johnny Cueto on the mound in Sunday's finale of a three-game series against the Marlins at Great American Ball Park.
Pena's status remains up in the air after he left Friday's game before the third inning when a tight left hamstring that had been bothering him grew a little tighter. The catcher-first baseman was not in Saturday's starting lineup.
"It necessitated a little extra TLC," Price said before Saturday's game. "We're still hoping that he'll be able to catch tomorrow, but we'll have to wait and see what kind of progress he makes. He'll go out there and hit and do all that stuff."
Trainers have been applying ice and ultrasound, said Pena, who normally catches Cueto.
"I've been getting a lot of treatment and being very aggressive with it, so hopefully I can get in the game tomorrow or today if needed," Pena said. "It's much better."
Losing Pena leaves big holes in both the batting order and in the field. Friday's start was his 28th at first base after basically emerging from a tryout camp that included third baseman Todd Frazier, outfielder Roger Bernardina and right fielder Jay Bruce in the wake of Joey Votto's ongoing knee problems that sent him back to the disabled list on July 8.
Pena had made just four career appearances at first base, none of them starts, before this season, but he'd played the position as if he'd spent his life there, making just one error while handling the ball 257 times.
The person who appreciates Pena's quick adjustment as much as the pitchers is Price.
"He's way better than I anticipated," he said. "It's been a huge boost for us with Joey out. He saved our bacon, for sure."
Pena's just having fun, as he does with almost everything.
"It's been kind of a wild ride for me out there, but it's been a lot of fun," said the switch-hitter, who matched his career high by extending his hitting streak to 12 games before being lifted on Friday. "The healthier I get, the better it is for everyone, especially with the opportunity the skipper has given me. I don't want to let anybody down. I want to take advantage of the opportunity."
"When I play PlayStation games, I put Joey Votto at designated hitter and I play myself at first and Devin [Mesoraco] is catching," Pena added with a smile. "It's fun. It's been great. I hope I can continue to do that."
• Right-handed pitcher Mike Leake's seven strikeouts in his start on Friday against Miami gave him with 126 on the season, a career high. He set his previous career high with 122 in 192 1/3 innings over 31 starts last season. Leake has logged 160 2/3 innings over 24 starts this season.
Mark Schmetzer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.