Gennett getting more regular playing time

7:42 p.m Friday, July 21, 2017 Journal-News Sports
The Reds’ Scooter Gennett bats against the Diamondbacks on Wednesday, July 19, 2017, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

Scooter Gennett T-shirts are hard to miss in the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse these days. Billy Hamilton wore a “Scooter-ific” shirt on Friday. In a short time, mostly thanks to his four-home run game in June, Gennett has become one of the most popular Reds.

Gennett’s performance has translated into increased playing time. He started his third straight game at second base Friday against the Miami Marlins. He has started five of the last seven games at second base and earned a start in right field in another game in that span.

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More starts for Gennett, who’s hitting .307 with 16 home runs, means fewer for Jose Peraza, who’s batting .253 with four home runs.

“Jose understands,” manager Bryan Price said. “He’s a professional. He’s a terrific young guy. He’s going to be a terrific player. He already is a solid player. But Scooter has been nothing short of spectacular with the bat. It doesn’t matter what kind of pitching he’s facing, he’s been productive. I think we need that.”

The Reds, who were outscored 61-20 in the first seven games of this 10-game homestand, need all the help they can get even if it means benching Peraza, 23, who’s expected to be a big part of the future.

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“He’s mature enough to understand that we need that boost that Scooter gives us,” Price said. “Jose has a future with us, and I think it’s going to be a strong one. However, at this point in time, our club needs that influx of Scooter a little bit more.”

Another shot: Robert Stephenson will start the second game of the series against the Marlins at 7:10 p.m. Saturday. He had an 8.03 ERA in 13 relief appearances with the Reds in April and May. In Louisville, he was 1-2 with a 3.79 ERA in seven starts.

Stephenson made several mechanical and mental adjustments. He hopes they continue to pay dividends in the big leagues.

“As far as mechanical stuff, I tried going over my head out of the windup,” Stephenson said. ” I tried it and I walked five guys in two innings. I said, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ The next time around, I tried just going down a little bit lower with my hands. That’s pretty much stuck with me the last couple times and I’ve been a lot better like that. As far as mental stuff, when I have a guy behind in the count, I just have to tell myself, ‘I don’t care if I walk him.’ I push it out of my head. It’s been working that way.”

Familiar name: Dan Straily, an unexpected star in the Reds rotation a year ago, is 7-5 with a 3.49 ERA in 20 starts with the Marlins. He won’t pitch in this series. The Reds traded Straily to the Marlins for pitchers Luis Castillo and Austin Brice and outfielder Isaiah White in January.

Injury update: Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani, who has been on the disabled list all season with an elbow injury, threw two innings of simulated batting practice Tuesday and will throw again Sunday in the Arizona Rookie League. He’s scheduled to throw three innings.

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DeSclafani will continue to make starts every fifth game, Price said, and he could bounce among the different Reds affiliates, depending on who’s playing at home.

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