8/22/2014 1:29 A.M. ET
Chapman's return a bright spot for Reds
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- The only bit of good news to come from the Reds' 8-0 loss to the Braves on Thursday was the healthy return of closer Aroldis Chapman, who threw a perfect eighth inning. The lefty struck out his first two batters and got a fly ball to center field.
Chapman hadn't pitched since Sunday's four-walk debacle in Game 1 of a doubleheader against the Rockies, when it was revealed he had an achy shoulder.
Spot starter David Holmberg, called up from Triple-A Louisville, lasted only 2 2/3 innings.
The ninth inning was pitched by position player Skip Schumaker, who moved over from left field to take the mound. He worked a scoreless inning with one walk.
With Chapman and Schumaker working the end of the game, tired relievers like Sam LeCure, Manny Parra and Jumbo Diaz could stay idle.
"We could pitch Chapman today as we did and he can pitch [Friday] if he comes out of it OK," manager Bryan Price said. "If we would have used [Jonathan] Broxton, LeCure, Diaz or Parra, most likely they would have been done for [Friday]. It just made sense to use Chappy there. It served two purposes. We got a chance to see that he's healthy as well."
Outfielder Schumaker pitches ninth to save 'pen
CINCINNATI -- As far as Reds outfielder Skip Schumaker is concerned, if he's going to have to pitch, he might as well do the best job he can. Schumaker was needed to take the mound Thursday in an 8-0 loss vs. the Braves as Cincinnati's woes continued to compound.
Moved from left field to the mound, Schumaker worked a scoreless ninth inning with one walk.
"Whenever you're in the game as a position player pitching, it's the worst-possible scenario because you know you're getting your butt kicked," Schumaker said. "Whenever you're out there, you want to make it as quick as you can and get out of there and not try to make it a circus by walking everybody or, God forbid, hit somebody and hurt somebody."
It was the first time the Reds needed a position player to pitch since 2009, when shortstop Paul Janish toed the rubber during two blowouts on July 6 at Philadelphia and May 13 vs. the Brewers.
This was Schumaker's fourth career big league relief appearance. Thursday's outing lowered his career ERA to 4.50. He pitched twice for the Dodgers last season and once for the Cardinals in 2011.
By comparison, Reds starter David Holmberg has a 14.00 career ERA in his three big league starts that totaled nine innings. Holmberg, called up to spot start Thursday, put the tired bullpen in a bind when he lasted only 2 2/3 innings and allowed six earned runs.
"I would say when the highlight of your game is Skip Schumaker threw a scoreless inning, it says enough about the game in of itself," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It was like everything else he does -- high intensity. He was invested. He didn't want to give up a run. A little bit of tight zone but we worked around it."
Schumaker reached 90 mph on two of his 17 pitches. He was often up in the high-80s mph. With his pitching, tired relievers like Jumbo Diaz, Sam LeCure and Manny Parra could take a night off.
"You want to save your bullpen," Schumaker said. "There's no reason to throw somebody else out there. The game was kind of out of hand anyway. You want to look forward to tomorrow and kind of make it quick."
Schumaker got the first batter, Evan Gattis, to fly out to right field. Andrelton Simmons followed with a line out to center field. After a B.J. Upton walk, Schumaker got pinch-hitter Ramiro Pena to ground out to second base.
"He was nasty, made me look bad," Simmons joked. "He was filthy. He was pretty good; he came in, threw strikes, messed a little bit with the hitters by throwing a couple of changeups or whatever that was. He got the job done."
The Reds are just hoping they don't need Schumaker's services on the mound anytime soon. It's the worst stretch of the team's season, having dropped six games in a row, nine of 10 and 11 of 13.
"We're trying everything," Schumaker said. "We tried to come in late. Stretch, not stretch, take BP at different times, have meetings, not have meetings, trying to mess around. You're trying to do anything you can to disrupt what's going on. It's kind of tough to figure out. We have the guys. Everybody is good enough to make a run at this thing. We picked a wrong time for a bad stretch."
Votto says he's eager to get back on field
CINCINNATI -- Reds first baseman Joey Votto has kept a low profile from the media since he went on the disabled list a second time July 8 with a distal strain of his left quadriceps.
That doesn't mean Votto hasn't been paying attention to the developing public perception that questions his injury or his desire to resume playing. On Thursday, the former National League MVP and four-time All-Star spoke up, and pushed back.
"Let's make it clear here -- I think there's been a real gray area and I feel like I've been the one in the crosshairs -- I've been injured," Votto said. "I feel like this is something I've had hanging over me in the general population, the fans, I think it's a toughness, or playing through pain sort of thing, or playing hurt sort of thing. I've been injured. I played injured. I went on the DL because I'm injured. I'm trying to be un-injured now.
"So the second I'm capable of playing and I'm no longer injured, I'll be back on the field. In the meantime, you can assume I'm injured. I shouldn't get some sort of different treatment, as if this is ... I've noticed little comments here and there and just a general perception that this is something I elected to do. I didn't elect to be injured. I am injured. People get injured. … What can I do? At some point I'll be back playing like I was playing before."
Some of the backlash could be attributed to Votto not saying much about his progress, or with the lack of information given by him about his injury. Votto made clear he wished he could be back on the field to help a Reds team that has struggled greatly without him, and Brandon Phillips, since the All-Star break.
"It doesn't feel very good and it has been frustrating. I wish I was on the field doing my part helping the team out," Votto said. "Unfortunately I'm not able to and I'm trying to get to a point where I can come back and help out and play like everyone's used to me playing. I'm not there yet."
Votto is eligible for activation on Sept. 4 from the 60-day DL, but has yet to resume baseball activities. He was cleared to begin jogging Thursday and had a positive strength test performed recently. What's missing is a timetable.
"Certainly over the course of this homestand, we'll get a lot better feel for where he is and if he's ready to resume baseball activities or not," Reds manager Bryan Price said.
Price maintained that he expects Votto to return to the Reds sometime in September. When asked about when he might return, Votto couldn't answer.
"I don't know right now," he said. "I'm doing everything I can to get back on the field as soon as possible."
Bailey doesn't know when he can resume throwing
CINCINNATI -- Reds pitcher Homer Bailey knew Thursday he would undergo an ultrasound test on Friday to see how well a small tear in the right flexor mass tendon in his forearm is healing. What Bailey didn't know is when he'd pitch again.
Bailey, who went on the disabled list Aug. 16, has yet to resume a throwing program. He recently underwent a platelet-rich plasma injection in an effort to speed his recovery.
"I don't really know a timetable," Bailey said. "No one does. It's just how quickly I can heal, more or less.
"Would I like to [resume throwing]? Absolutely I would. This isn't really something you can rush back. You can either do it once and do it right or you can try to rush it back and go back to square one. I've been through enough injuries."
Bailey didn't know how long he pitched with the injury but understood that he couldn't pitch again after his Aug. 7 start vs. the Indians.
"I've kind of been fighting stuff most of the year," Bailey said. "It's been a really, really tough year for me -- a pulled groin, a herniated disc in the back, elbow, I took a ball off the jaw, took a ball of my biceps. It's just been one of those years.
"Actually right after the All-Star break, my forearm was really feeling good. In the third or fourth inning of the Cleveland game, my elbow locked up on me. I don't personally think it was from throwing. I think I did it whenever I got a hit. I don't know. It could have been throwing because that's what we do. It could have been from hitting. The next day it didn't recover like it should have."
Hoover, Contreras optioned to Triple-A
CINCINNATI -- It's been a struggle of a 2014 season for Reds reliever J.J. Hoover, and it reached a low point on the previous road trip when he was on the mound for two walk-off losses. The Reds made roster moves Thursday and Hoover was optioned to Triple-A Louisville.
Hoover is 1-10 with a 5.27 ERA in 46 games, which tied the Reds' record among relievers for most losses in a season. His 10-game losing streak is a record for Cincinnati relievers. He 10th loss came when he hit Jon Jay with the bases loaded in the ninth inning for a 5-4 loss to the Cardinals on Tuesday.
"J.J. was the choice simply because it's been such a battle to just really be consistent and be the same guy we've come to know from 2012 and 2013," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I think a few outings down in Triple-A just to get his feet back on the ground hopefully will help him when he comes back. He'll certainly be back with us in September and hopefully throwing the ball as good as ever."
Also optioned to Louisville was rookie Carlos Contreras, who had a 6.11 ERA in 13 appearances. Contreras exited Wednesday's game at St. Louis in the eighth inning with right shoulder stiffness but it proved not to be a serious issue.
To fill the 25-man roster, the Reds recalled lefty pitcher David Holmberg from Louisville to start vs. the Braves on Thursday. Right-handed reliever Pedro Villarreal, who had one-game stints in the big leagues for the Reds in 2012 and 2013, was also called up.
Villarreal had a 3.20 ERA in 42 games this season for Louisville. In the Reds' 8-0 loss to the Braves, he replaced David Holmberg in the third and allowed two runs and three hits over 2 1/3 innings.