Reds news: Max Schrock excels in place of Aristides Aquino

Cincinnati Reds second baseman Max Schrock (32) dives, but is unable to catch up to a ground ball.
Cincinnati Reds second baseman Max Schrock (32) dives, but is unable to catch up to a ground ball. /

Aristides Aquino received some tough news this week, as The Punisher will be sidelined for several weeks following surgery on a fracture hamate bone in his left hand. The Cincinnati Reds chose to recall infielder Max Schrock to the 26-man roster.

Schrock was acquired this offseason and played well during spring training. An injury during the latter part of camp spoiled Schrock’s chances to make the Opening Day roster, but after spending time at the Reds alternate site in Louisville and going on the road last week as part of Cincinnati’s taxi squad, the 26-year-old made his Reds debut last night.

Max Schrock had a solid debut for the Reds on Friday night.

Max Schrock, much like Tyler Naquin, was a shrewd offseason pickup by Nick Krall and the Cincinnati front office. Schrock had previously been part of both the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs organizations.

Schrock came on during the bottom of the seventh inning to pinch-hit for reliever Cionel Pérez. Schrock, who’s known as a contact hitter, staring down a 1-2 count, laced a single down left field line and into the outfield for his first hit as a member of the Cincinnati Reds.

Not to be outdone, the versatile infielder took over for Kyle Farmer at third base to begin the eighth inning and made a jumping grab to rob Cleveland Indians’ outfielder Amed Rosario of a base hit. The ball jumped off Rosario’s bat at 97.2-MPH according to Baseball Savant, but Schrock’s quick reflexes prevented the former New York Mets’ shortstop from reaching base.

Why didn’t the Reds select an outfielder to replace Aristides Aquino?

It’s a bit curious that the Cincinnati Reds selected Max Schrock over the likes of Scott Heineman or Mark Payton. With Aristides Aquino likely to miss more than a month of playing time, how long will David Bell go without a fifth outfielder?

The answer is, not very long. Shogo Akiyama has begun rehabbing from a hamstring injury and is likely to return by early-to-mid May. Both Schrock and fellow utility player Kyle Farmer also have experience playing the corner outfield, so in a pinch, either could fill in.

It’s also not as if we’d seen Aquino draw a start during the early-going. The Punisher had been relegated to a right-handed bench bat or late-inning defensive replacement. Adding Schrock’s left-handed bat helps Bell balance out his bench with right-handed hitters (Naquin, Tyler Stephenson, and Alex Blandino) and left-handed hitters (Schrock and Naquin).

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If needed, the Reds could always option Blandino or Schrock back to Triple-A Louisville and recall Mark Payton. Payton would give the team a left-handed outfield bat who’s capable of playing all three positions.