Reds dodge bullet with Votto injury, get game-winning blast from newly-activated Mesoraco
With Jay Bruce, Mat Latos and Tony Cingrani on the disabled list, the last thing the scuffling Reds needed was a major injury to their best player. That was the fear, however, when Votto failed to travel to Philadelphia with the rest of the team Friday, instead staying behind in Cincinnati to have an MRI on his left knee, the same knee on which he had a pair of surgeries in the summer of 2012. Fortunately for the Reds, Votto's MRI revealed no damage to the knee, only a left quadriceps strain which may not even require a disabled list stay (that decision is still pending).
Not only did the Reds get relatively good news on Votto, they also got catcher Devin Mesoraco off the disabled list Friday. Mesoraco made his presence known immediately with a three-run home run off Kyle Kendrick in the top of the first inning in Philadelphia. That three-run shot would account for all of the scoring in the game as Alfredo Simon rebounded from his poor outing against the Rockies with 7 2/3 scoreless innings against the Phillies. Manny Parra and Aroldis Chapman, the latter having also recently returned from the disabled list, nailed down the Reds' 3-0 win.
Mesoraco added a walk to that home run, his fourth of the season, and is now hitting .460/.509/.820 on the year. That's in a mere 57 plate appearances over 14 games, but Mesoraco's 1.329 OPS is the highest for any player with more than four (yes, four) plate appearances on the season. He has hit safely in 13 of those 14 games, has had multiple hits in seven of them, and is second on the team in RBIs with 16 despite playing in just 35 percent of the team's games. All sorts of small sample caveats apply to Mesoraco's hot start, but that doesn't make it any less encouraging given his status as a former top prospect who entered this season with a mere .225/.282/.359 line in 589 major league plate appearances. The Reds have traded away parallel prospect Yasmani Grandal and underrated veteran Ryan Hanigan to clear the catching position for Mesoraco with the expectation that he would take over the position on a full-time basis this season. A pair of muscle strains have limited his ability to do that so far, but he has done nothing but hit when healthy. The Reds, who are still two games under .500 even after Friday night's win, need that from Mesoraco now more than ever with Bruce on the shelf through the end of the month following meniscus surgery on his left knee, Votto's status still uncertain despite the encouraging MRI, and their offense having scored fewer runs per game than all but three teams in the major leagues (the Astros, Braves, and Padres) entering Friday night's contest.