Some Reds fans had a rather quizical look on Monday afternoon when it was annouced that pitcher Lyon Richardson was being sent back to Triple-A Louisville in order to make room on the active roster for Michael Mariot and Casey Legumina.
The Cincinnati Reds have had to do some major roster maneuvering over the last few days. Graham Ashcraft headed to the 15-day injured list with a stress reaction in his toe and four other pitchers were placed on the COVID-19 IL.
This prompted Cincinnati to bring Richardson and fellow rookie hurler Carson Spiers up to the big leagues this past week. Richardson started Game 2 of Friday's doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs and Spiers closed out the series on Sunday with four strong innings of work.
Lyon Richardson will still start for the Reds later this week.
But while Lyon Richardson did, in fact, return to Triple-A on Monday, he wasn't really optioned back to the minors. Not in the technical sense, anyway. In the same way, Carson Spiers didn't technically have his contract selected by the Reds prior to his major league debut on Sunday.
This all has to do with the fact that both Richardson and Spiers are substituted players. The same holds true for Connor Phillips who'll toe the rubber for the first time on Tuesday.
Major League Baseball dropped their COVID-19 testing requirements last season, but still allowed teams to use substitute players if certain situations called for it. Players placed on the COVID-19 IL do not count against a team's active roster and substitute players can be added and sent back to the minors without it being considered an option or outright assignment.
Because neither Spiers or Phillips had their contract selected by the Cincinnati Reds, neither pitcher is actually part of the team's 40-man roster. In a similar way, Richardson was not recalled when he returned to pitch last week, so he was not optioned back to Triple-A Louisville on Monday.
Long story, short, being sent back to Triple-A on Monday will in no way affect the Cincinnati Reds ability to recall Lyon Richardson on Wednesday in order to start in the series finale against the Seattle Mariners.