I’ve said it before — the Cincinnati Reds are one of the absolute worst teams in the league when it comes to handling their injuries. Under general manager Walt Jocketty, the Reds seem to always be willing to take a risk rather than place players on the disabled list, and once again this was made evident by their unwillingness to place Joey Votto on the DL following his current injury. Instead, the Reds are forced to play a player short until he feels he is able to return to the lineup.
Sure, the team would rather be without an integral member of their team for six or seven days instead of the required 15 that comes with placement on the disabled list, but wouldn’t it make more sense to err on the side of caution? Playing with 24 on the roster limits manager Bryan Price‘s options during the course of a game. For example, when the team optioned catcher Tucker Barnhart to AAA Louisville, the Reds were left with two catchers — Devin Mesoraco and Brayan Pena. While Pena was an option at first while Barnhart was still on the roster, the Reds had flexibility instead of worrying about having two catchers in the game at once without a rested backup on the bench. Now that Tucker has been optioned, the Reds have been forced to keep Pena on the bench in case of a Mesoraco injury. This forced Price to play Neftali Soto at first base twice during the recent series in with the Philadelphia Phillies. And if you are forced to play Soto at first base, you know something is wrong.
Simply put, Votto remaining active on the 25-man roster is a dead spot for the team. If he was placed on the disabled list, the team could promote Barnhart, bring Donald Lutz back to the big leagues or even possibly add another bat off the street (which would be more complicated, but still an option). Despite all of these options, Jocketty and the Reds instead choose to play shorthanded — as they have in the past with injuries of Brandon Phillips, Ryan Ludwick, Billy Hamilton, etc.
Where the blame falls is anyone’s guess, and Lord knows fans throw enough of it onto Walt Jocketty. Regardless, this is an issue that has plagued the Reds for years and an issue that continually puts the organization immediately behind at the start of every game they are forced to play shorthanded. It would seem that having 25 healthy bodies on a roster would be more beneficial than 24, but what do I know?