Reds manager David Bell reveals optimistic timeline for TJ Friedl's impending return

Will TJ Friedl be back before the Reds upcoming road trip?
Cincinnati Reds outfielder TJ Friedl (29)
Cincinnati Reds outfielder TJ Friedl (29) / Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Reds returned a pair of players on Monday's games against St. Louis Cardinals. Nick Lodolo returned to the Reds starting rotation and Jeimer Candelario was back in the heart of Cincinnati's starting lineup. Lodolo had been on the IL with a groin injury while Candelario was absent from the lineup the past two days with neck stiffness.

Reds manager David Bell made it sound as if Cincinnati could get another key cog back later this week. According to Bell, TJ Friedl is close to returning to the Reds' lineup. Cincinnati's centerfielder was hit on the hand during the team's game against the San Francisco Giants back on May 12th, but Bell said that Friedl could be back toward the end of the week.

This an extremely optimistic timeline, but one that Reds fans would thoroughly enjoy seeing. Friedl began the season on the 10-day injured list, and only managed to take the field for six games before landing on the IL a little over two weeks ago.

Reds manager David Bell reveals extremely optimistic timeline for TJ Friedl's return

Injuries have crippled the Reds this season. In addition to Friedl, the team is currently without infielder Matt McLain. The former first-round pick has been seen in the Reds' dugout from time-to-time, but the Cincinnati faithful will have to wait until August (at the earliest) before they'll be able to see McLain back on the diamond. Even that timeline is questionable, and there's a chance that McLain won't play at all this season.

Christian Encarnacion-Strand is also missing in action. Much like Friedl, Encarnacion-Strand was hit-by-pitch earlier this season and eventually found his way to the IL after being diagnosed with a fracture in his right hand. Encarnacion-Strand is expected back sometime next month.

In Friedl's absence, the Reds have relied on Jacob Hurtubise atop the batting order. The West Point graduate has a very similar style of play to Friedl, and has carved out a nice niche since joining the big league club a couple weeks ago.

It will be rather interesting to see if Hurtubise is optioned back to Triple-A once Friedl returns to the lineup — a move that most Reds fans would hate to see.

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