Reds lack of injury list decisions cost them dearly during Padres series

The Reds cost themselves some games during the road trip.
Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson
Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson / Jeff Dean/GettyImages
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The Cincinnati Reds limped through their six-game road trip with a 2-4 record, but David Bell's club could have very easily emerged with a .500 record or even better. Cincinnati won just one game in Arlington against the defending World Series champion Texas Rangers, and lost two in a row to the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.

The Reds will return home to Great American Ball Park for a three-game set against the Baltimore Orioles to open their next homestand. But will the Reds be full-strength or will Bell still be without two of his better right-handed hitters.

Though both Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Tyler Stephenson have had their fair share of ups and down throughout the first month of the 2024 season, the duo has been objectively better than several players Bell was forced to turn to during the Reds' six-game road trip.

Reds lack of injury list decisions cost them dearly during Padres series

Encarnacion-Strand and Stephenson were both hit by pitches during the Reds' game against the Rangers on Saturday at Globe Life Field. Stephenson exited the game while Encarnacion-Strand remained in. Both men, however, missed Sunday's series finale. Neither one was in Monday game, or Tuesday's game, or Wednesday's game. That's poor roster management on the part of Nick Krall and the Reds' front office.

Bell's lineup without Encarnacion-Strand and Stephenson saw the likes of Nick Martini, Santiago Espinal, Stuart Fairchild, and Luke Maile for four consecutive games. All four of those players can fill specific roles with the ball club, but that quartet cannot be counted on to get everyday reps. Furthermore, Bell's only bench bat was Bubba Thompson. That's lunacy. Let's also not forget that Jake Fraley was battling illness for much of the week as well.

If a team is going to be without one of their regulars for one, maybe two games, perhaps you don't make a roster move. But to go four consecutive days without placing one of Encarnacion-Strand or Stephenson on the IL is a painfully illogical decision.

And to be sure, this is not a Bell problem, even though he's become the punching bag in this instance for making out the lineup card. But Bell has no choice but to dance with the date that brung him. Unfortunately, his date drove separately and didn't show up on time.

The Reds have a decision to make with Mike Ford, and Krall needs to make the right one. The Reds' bats have been scuffling, so a return to GABP will be a good thing. But these types of decisions can come back to haunt the Reds as the season progresses.

Knowing that Frankie Montas would miss his next start, the Reds immediately placed their Opening Day starter on the IL. The exact same thing should happen with position players when it impacts the lineup as much as the absence of Encarnacion-Strand and Stephenson did. Furthermore, it was two players, not just one. This was a bungled operation on the part of Krall and Co.

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