The Right Field Conundrum for the Cincinnati Reds


Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Joining the seemingly endless laundry list of injuries to the Cincinnati Reds roster, Jay Bruce becomes the highest profile player to enter the vaunted list thus far in 2014. 

Arguably, the club’s Most Valuable Player just a year ago, Bruce has gotten off to an arctic start.  The defensive shifts employed by opponents have undoubtedly gotten in between the ears of the left-handed slugger.  Prone to slumps potentially more than his teammates, Bruce has gone through cataclysmic peaks and valleys throughout his tenure with the Reds.

Will his bat be missed in the lineup?  Undoubtedly.  Will the Reds sink to the depths of the National League link a fallen anchor in his absence?  Not a chance.

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The time to shine is now for Chris Heisey.  No longer is this his first opportunity, in fact, this may be deemed his last chance to prove himself.  He has been a member of the club since his inception in professional ball in 2006.  Never told before that he was “the man,” he is now presented with the keys to the Benz.

Now the question becomes, who will bat clean up?  Bryan Price’s batting order decision have served as fuel to the fire of a hungry fan base that clamors for October Postseason dominance.  In order for that to occur, the club will have to adapt and survive to the spring bug that has decimated their roster.

Ryan Ludwick seems like the obvious choice to bat in the number four slot.  Without having to worry about the incessant clamoring for Heisey in his ear anymore, the Reds may be witnessing the heating up of a man that has carried the team in the past.  With a swing that was built for the dimensions of Great American Ball Park, Ludwick can step into the role seamlessly, having done it before.

The more intriguing choice would be Todd Frazier.  Currently the Reds leading RBI man, a shift up one spot in the order may not seem like a big difference, but Brandon Phillips drove in over 100 runs from that slot last season. 

Parallels can be drawn: when Joey Votto went down with his knee injury in 2012, it was Todd Frazier who stepped in as the everyday first baseman in his absence after the fan base clamored for him more often.  Now, with Jay Bruce missing the next month, Heisey gets his opportunity to prove himself.  Reds fans can only hope that Heisey will respond with the type of production that Frazier unleashed, hitting nearly everything in sight.

When Joey Votto went down in the second half of 2012, the team rallied around his injury, playing even better without him.  Although, upon his return, he was a shell of himself.  Unable to drive the ball for power, Votto adapted his game to a hitter who could spray the ball to all fields. 

Jay Bruce on the other hand, is not nearly the same player.  His game is predicated on power.  Without being able to drive the ball, Bruce would be merely a nice piece to this club, rather than the backbone of the order. 

Recalled in his absence will be Roger Bernadina, who as of Monday afternoon had cleared waivers.  Even though he has not spent the mandated 10 days in the minors after a demotion, he can be recalled due to an injury. 

Without Jay Bruce in the lineup, Bryan Price will be sending runners even more without the threat of a home run in the middle of the lineup.  The club will need to adapt in his absence, but as proven time and time again, adversity brings out the best in us all.