Jonathan India's absence has allowed this Reds' offseason addition find his rhythm

The Reds depth has been tested early this season.
Cincinnati Reds infielder Santiago Espinal
Cincinnati Reds infielder Santiago Espinal / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages

When the Cincinnati Reds learned that Matt McLain would be out for several months following a shoulder injury he suffered during spring training, things were looking rather grim. Noelvi Marte had just been suspended 80 games for PED use and the Reds were also missing their table-setter with TJ Friedl undergoing wrist surgery.

Reds President of Baseball Operations Nick Krall picked up the phone and called Ross Atkins of the Toronto Blue Jays. The two teams engaged in trade talks, and the Reds swung a deal that brought Santiago Espinal to the Queen City.

Espinal was known more for his glove than his bat during his time in Toronto, but the 29-year-old did have an All-Star appearance attached to his résumé. While Espinal had been struggling to find his footing through the first few weeks of the season, the Reds' second baseman has shined while Jonathan India has been out of the lineup.

Jonathan India's absence has allowed Reds' 2B Santiago Espinal find his rhythm

India was, unfortunately, one of the handful of Reds players to recently battle an illness that has run through the clubhouse. In addition to India, Justin Wilson, Jake Fraley, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and Jeimer Candelario have all missed time over the past week or so.

Without India in the starting lineup, the Reds have been forced to give increased playing time to Espinal. The former Boston Red Sox farmhand has come up clutch over the past week, and especially in the series against the Philadelphia Phillies.

In 18 games this season, Espinal is hitting just .208/.281/.292. But over the last five games, all of which have come at second base, Espinal is 6-for-18 (.400) with a home run, five RBI and a 183 wRC+.

India was back with the team on Wednesday, but was still out of the starting lineup. Fraley has yet to rejoin his teammates since missing Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Angels.

But the Reds have rallied despite being without two of their top performers, and Espinal's heroics have been a big reason why. The Reds have won five of their last six games and have already won the season series over the Phillies. Krall's offseason pickup is making the most of his opportunity, and Espinal's five-game surge could turn into a larger role down the line.

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