The Cincinnati Reds will have to manage for a month or so without their slugging right fielder Jay Bruce. But if the team opts to promote another left-handed hitting slugger in his place in Donald Lutz, the absence of Bruce may be absorbed.
Lutz wouldn’t replace Bruce in right field, but his left-handed bat would in games where Lutz could play left field or pinch hit. Lutz only played right field once last year when he was promoted to the Reds from Double A, and although he is athletic enough to play either corner outfield position, Lutz spent virtually all of his big-league stint last year playing left field.
The Reds wouldn’t be asking Lutz to replace Bruce’s power production alone, though. That job would come from two players who have filled the void in the past when a Reds’ star player had to miss extended time — Todd Frazier and Ryan Ludwick, who both filled the void on offense during a 49-game absence for Joey Votto in 2012.
Frazier and Ludwick both did so well while Votto was out that the team went from a 50-38 record to 83-54 during that time, which also included a 10-game winning streak. Frazier hit .330 with six homers and a whopping 25 RBIs during August that year while Votto was out, and Ludwick hit .327 with seven round-trippers and 19 RBIs during the month.
Neither Frazier nor Ludwick may light it up quite like that while Bruce is out, but the history of this particular group of Reds is that someone will step forward to pick up the slack.
Lutz has already cracked five long balls in Double A action this year and sports an OPS as enormous as the 6-foot-3, 250-pound German-raised Lutz at 1.172. His bat off the bench and occasional starts would help bolster the power production of the Reds, even in limited action while Bruce is out.