Reds manager David Bell gives optimistic injury update on infielder Matt McLain

When will Matt McLain see the field this spring?

Cincinnati Reds shortstop Matt McLain (9) fields a ground ball during spring training workouts,
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Matt McLain (9) fields a ground ball during spring training workouts, / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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Matt McLain has not been on the field for a game since August 27, 2023. The Cincinnati Reds infielder, who finished fifth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting last season, suffered an oblique injury late last summer a missed the final month-plus of his rookie campaign.

Reds fans were surprised this spring when it was revealed that the presumed starting second baseman had suffered another oblique injury during batting practice. The two injuries are not related, but it's definitely concerning.

McLain has yet to appear in a Cactus League game since the Reds arrived in Arizona last month. But the latest injury update offers Reds Country a bit of good news as Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting that McLain was back on the field for team workouts on Tuesday, and manager David Bell revealed that the 24-year-old could make his in-game debut later this week.

Reds manager David Bell gives optimistic injury update on infielder Matt McLain

McLain, the Reds first-round pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, was arguably the best player on the team last season. After receiving his major league call-up late last spring, McLain went on to hit .290/.357/.507 with 16 home runs, 50 RBI, and 14 stolen bases.

Upon arriving in Goodyear earlier this year, Bell proclaimed that McLain would be receiving the majority of starts at second base for the Reds in 2024; a position former Rookie of the Year Jonathan India had held since 2021. McLain is seen as the superior defender, and India's role will be expanded to include both first and second base as well as the outfield.

Unfortunately, India has been absent from spring games as well. India signed a two-year contract extension with Cincinnati this offseason, but the 27-year-old has been suffering through an injury issue of his own. India suffered from plantar fasciitis last season and he's been dealing with a flareup this spring.

India is expected to return to the diamond this week, and it sounds as if he may have McLain joining him. McLain took some swings last week and is expected to participate in live batting practice by the middle of this week. If all goes well, the Reds could have both India and McLain back on the field for Cactus League play by week's end.

With both McLain and India absent from spring games, Josh Harrison, Tony Kemp, and Erik Gonzalez have logged starts at second base. Spencer Steer even got into the action on Monday, drawing a start at the keystone. Cincinnati's depth has been tested this spring, and the team as whole will be better for it once the dog days of summer arrive.

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