Reds News: Matt McLain injury update, Connor Phillips' disastrous start, Alex Blandino

The Reds played shorthanded on Wednesday.

Cincinnati Reds infielder Matt McLain
Cincinnati Reds infielder Matt McLain / Meg Oliphant/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Reds have clawed their way back into the National League playoff picture and sit just 1.5 games back in the chase for the final Wild Card spot. Cincinnati has a winning record during the month of June, but back-to-back series losses against division foes have raised some eyebrows around Reds Country.

The Reds lost a heartbreaker to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday, in part because of the team's horrific offensive performance. The Reds' bats were kept in check and Cincinnati managed just three runs during the entire series against the Bucs.

But Reds manager David Bell wasn't playing with a full deck during the series finale. Jeimer Candelario, Nick Martini, and TJ Friedl were all out of the starting lineup. While injuries have defined Cincinnati's struggles this season, Bell did provide a positive update on one of the Reds' bright young stars earlier this week.

Reds News: Matt McLain on track to return in August

Matt McLain's rehab from shoulder surgery has been kept rather quiet. Last year's rookie injured his shoulder during spring training and underwent surgery prior to Opening Day. The hope has always been that McLain would return sometime later this season, and Bell maintains that it's still a viable option.

According to Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer, McLain is on track to begin a rehab assignment sometime in August. With so much negative news surrounding the Reds and their inordinate number of injuries, it's nice to receive a positive update.

Whether McLain's return to the diamond will come sometime in early-August or later in the month is not yet known, but getting the second baseman back on the field would be a tremendous asset for Cincinnati this summer.

Reds News: Connor Phillips continues struggle in the minor leagues

The once bright start to the career of Connor Phillips has been extinguished this season. Phillips' disastrous season with the Louisville Bats continued on Wednesday with another horrific outing.

The right-hander got through just four inning and threw 95 pitches while allowing six runs on four hits, including three home runs. Phillips also walked three batters while striking out four and was lifted in favor of Christian Roa.

Phillips now owns a 10.11 ERA and has 50 walks in 53 innings pitched this season. Phillips was a top-100 prospect heading into the season, but it may be time for the Reds to consider demoting the 22-year-old back to Double-A. Phillips has no shot of being called up to the big leagues, and whatever trade value he may have had this summer has all but evaporated.

Reds News: Alex Blandino assigned to Daytona Tortugas

Alex Blandino is attempting to do something that few pitchers — much less position players — ever attempt. The former first-round pick is trying to become a knuckleballer. Blandino was signed a minor-league contract with the Reds this past offseason.

While most Reds fans assumed the 31-year-old was likely to be a depth option for Cincinnati's infield this season, it was revealed that Blandino would start the season at the Arizona Complex League as a pitcher.

Blandino, according to his transaction log, was just promoted to Low-A Daytona. It can be assumed that Blandino will soon toe the rubber as a member of the Daytona Tortugas' pitching staff.

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