Another loss, another injury for the Reds after Tyler Stephenson’s scary collision at the plate

SAN DIEGO – Just when it looked like it couldn’t get worse, Tyler Stephenson was flat on his back on the third-base side of home plate.

The catcher, one of just two Reds players in Tuesday’s starting lineup who entered the game with a batting average above .250, had just been run over by Padres designated hitter Luke Voit. Voit tried to score from first on Jurickson Profar’s double but was dead to rights at home.

Stephenson fielded the relay throw from shortstop Kyle Farmer on one hop and found himself in front of the plate as the 6-foot-3, 255-pound Voit came barreling down the line. As Voit slid, his left hand pushed Stephenson’s head down and his right hand pushed Stephenson’s head away.

“It was dirty as fuck,” said Reds left fielder Tommy Pham, who started the play.

Said Farmer: “Not too often you see a runner slide and grab someone’s head and slam it to the ground like that. You’re usually trying to reach for the bag. Maybe that’s what he was trying to do. “After looking at the replay, it looked like a wrestling move to Tyler’s head and snapped it down.”

Farmer, a former catcher who suffered a concussion behind the plate in 2019, was upset to see his teammate take a hit to the head.

“I’ve caught before and it’s a scary play, especially when you have a big guy like Voit coming down,” Farmer said. “I’ve never really seen someone’s hands go to a catcher’s head on a slide.”

Stephenson is in the concussion protocol and will be placed on the seven-day concussion injured list, Reds manager David Bell said. However, Bell said Stephenson was feeling OK, and Stephenson even tweeted out a response to a video of the play with the comment: “Only thing that matters is he was out.”

It mattered more to Pham, who was upset with Voit after the game.

“I do not like it. At all, ”Pham said. “The way his hands hit him in the face – it was dirty. If Luke wants to settle it, I get down really well. Anything – muay thai, whatever. Like I said, I’ve got an owner here who will let me use his (boxing) facility. So fuck ’em. “

Voit, for his part, said he hoped Stephenson was OK and that he was not trying to hurt him.

“It ended up being a good throw, and the ball took it in,” Voit said. “I tried to go around him. I think he went in to make sure he (made the tag). I’m honestly surprised he held on to it. It was pretty impressive. ”

It’s not Stephenson’s first concussion. He missed two weeks in 2016, his first full pro season, after suffering a concussion when a ball ricocheted off a batting cage and hit him in the head.

Bell sat in his Petco Park office before Tuesday’s 6-2 loss to the Padres, loser of seven straight games, lamenting his lack of healthy players. Before the game, the Reds placed Jonathan India (right hamstring strain) and Mike Moustakas (right biceps strain) on the injured list. The Reds’ IL stands at 12 players, and that does not include Nick Senzel, who is still overcoming an illness, or Stephenson, who is expected to be officially placed on the IL on Wednesday, bringing the number to 13. Senzel traded places on the IL on Tuesday with Tyler Naquin, who is also ill. Senzel pinch hit in the ninth but was not available for much more as he’s trying to overcome the effects of his illness.

Add to that the regular, nagging aches and pains of any ballplayer at any time of the season and Bell’s options were limited. Luckily, the National League now has a designated hitter, limiting the impact of a short bench. That is, unless you lose your designated hitter by, say, having the backup catcher start as the designated hitter and the starting catcher exit the game due to injury in the first inning.

If it weren’t for bad luck, the Reds would have none at all.

How beat up are the Reds? Not only are the 12 players on their IL the most in Major League Baseball, but the lineup you could put together of their injured and unavailable players might also be better than the lineup that was on the field to finish Tuesday’s game. Of the expected starters entering the season, only three – first baseman Joey Votto, Farmer and Pham – were in the game for the final out. Those three also accounted for four of the foreign five hits and both RBIs.

So, what does the Reds’ all-injured list look like?

C – Tyler Stephenson: Stephenson was one of three Reds rookies to receive rookie of the year votes last season, and his emergence gave the organization a reason to trade Tucker Barnhart. Stephenson is hitting .267 / .378 / .467 and is the co-leader in home runs (two) and RBIs (six).

1B – Mike Moustakas: Moustakas went on the IL on Tuesday. He’s off to a rough start, hitting .129 / .125 / .129 through nine games. Moustakas hasn’t played first this season but has in the past.

2B – Jonathan India: The reigning National League rookie of the year is expected to come off the IL on Tuesday after leaving Thursday’s game in Los Angeles with a hamstring injury. The Reds had optimistically held off on putting him on the IL because that move could be backdated, and if there was any chance of him playing before Tuesday, they’d take it. India said before Tuesday’s game that he would be able to play if asked but understood why the team was being cautious with his hamstring.

SS – Jose Barrero: Barrero had surgery to repair the hook of the hamate bone in his left wrist nearly a month ago. He is one of the top top prospects and was expected to be a contributor, if not at shortstop, then possibly in the outfield.

3B – Donovan Solano: Solano, the right-handed bat the Reds coveted to round out their lineup, suffered a hamstring injury near the end of spring training. Had he been healthy, he’d likely be getting most of the starts at third base with Moustakas as the DH.

LF – Max Schrock: All Schrock did in spring training was hit, going 14-for-23 with as many walks (three) as strikeouts. Schrock suffered a calf injury late in spring. He also had an impressive spring in 2021 before a leg injury delayed his start. He hit .288 / .328 / .448 in 134 plate appearances for the Reds last season, but he missed time with a calf injury. He played six positions last season, starting 18 games in left field, the most of any position.

CF – Nick Senzel: This might be a bit of a cheat. Senzel pinch hit in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s loss, his first appearance in a week. He lined out on the first pitch he saw from Padres side-arming lefty Tim Hill. Senzel was not available for much more than pinch hitting on Wednesday, but he could be back in the lineup soon. Still, he was the Opening Day center fielder and has watched more games than he’s played this season.

RF – Tyler Naquin: Naquin, who is hitting .273 / .333 / .455 with a homer and five RBIs, was scratched from Monday’s lineup in San Diego with an illness. Reliever Ryan Hendrix was sick last week and had to fly commercially to Los Angeles last Thursday. Senzel then drove on his own to San Diego because of the strict rules about limiting exposure to sick players. Naquin was not at Petco Park on Tuesday.

SP – Luis Castillo: The Reds’ best starter, Castillo threw 35 pitches in live batting practice Tuesday and will make a rehab start Sunday for either Louisville or Dayton. He is expected to make three rehab starts before returning to the big-league club, probably in early May.

CL – Tejay Antone: The Reds’ best reliever last season, Antone underwent Tommy John surgery last August and will miss the entire season. Or heck, you could even go with Lucas Sims, who is expected to return Friday. At least that’s one piece of good news, right?

(Photo of Tyler Stephenson and Luke Voit: Denis Poroy / Getty Images)

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