Cozart: Every other day for now

CINCINNATI — For Zack Cozart it looks as if it might be one day in and one day out of the Cincinnati Reds lineup.

That’s the plan for between now and the nine games remaining before the All-Star break as the medical staff wants to be dead-on with the prognosis and progress of Cozart’s right quadriceps.

After spending 13 days on the disabled list with a sore leg, Cozart returned to the lineup Friday and contributed two hits to his team’s 5-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

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But he was not in Saturday’s lineup, replaced once again in the batting order by Scooter Gennett.

“We’ve written up a schedule for Cozart with our athletic trainer Steve Baumann and Dr. Tim Kremchek,” said manager Bryan Price. “We know that Zack is much better, but not 100 per cent, so we felt collectively to re-integrate him at a slower pace back to regular duty. That’s the responsible thing to do to get him as close to 100 percent as we can and to get him to and into the All-Star break.”

WHILE COZART WANTS to play, he understands the important of the plan.

“They have a plan for me and told me about it, that it goes up to the All-Star break, and I’m going to go with it,” said Cozart. “It is probably smart. Obviously, I don’t want to not play.”

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“They have a plan for me and told me about it, that it goes up to the All-Star break, and I’m going to go with it,” said Cozart. “It is probably smart. Obviously, I don’t want to not play.”

Does this have anything to do with keeping him healthy for his possible appearance as the starting shortstop in the All-Star game?

“Even going back to talking about going on the disabled list originally, and even playing six weeks with what I had, that was in my mind,” said Cozart. “At the same time I always to be out there playing. I feel like I’m having a pretty good year and I’ve never been an All-Star. I don’t want an injury to cost me that.

“That was a very small part of the decision for me to go on the DL, so it doesn’t hinder me for that, but also for the long term,” said Cozart. “That’s not necessarily why we did this schedule coming up, but it’s because I had 13 days off and we didn’t want me playing 12 straight games. But, yes, that All-Star game would be pretty cool and pretty important.”

AND IT ALSO MAKES certain that Gennett’s hot bat doesn’t simmer and cool off in the bat rack.

“He is capable of playing at a high level,” Price added of Cozart. “How long it will take to get him to 100 percent is the question. He wanted to play, we want him to play. But we want to get him as close to 100 percent as we can, which is why we gave him an extra three days after the 10 days were up.

“The price to pay (if they rushed Cozart back) may have been weeks (out of the lineup) and that’s something we can’t afford if our end goal is to win as many games as we can.”

SPEAKING OF GENNETT, somebody asked Scooter about him dressing up as the Easter Bunny last year with the Milwaukee Brewers and said they couldn’t reveal the source.

“Yeah, it was probably Brawny (Ryan Braun),” said the diminutive Gennett. “They wanted somebody to dress up as the Easter Bunny for the players’ kids and they picked me. Gee, I wonder why?”

It wasn’t the Easter Bunny, though, has has given Gennett’s swing an extra lift this year. One of baseball’s newest buzzwords is launch angle. A year ago Gennett’s launch angle for the season was 11.5 per cent. This year, with a 15 per

Credit: John Boyle

Credit: John Boyle

cent launch angle, he is getting more lift. And more home runs.

On purpose?

“Naw, not at all,” said Gennett. “When a little guy like me starts trying to change the level of my swing I end up popping up too much. That’s not something I want to do. The change is not something I purposely do.”

But it’s working.

WITH THE PROMOTION of Jackson Stephens for his start and major league debut Saturday against the Cubs, the Reds warmed up the Louisville Special and sent relief pitcher Ariel Hernandez to Triple-A. Actually, it is still a promotion. The Reds called him up from Double-A Pensacola.

“Ariel made the most of his opportunities,” said Price. “None of us were happy to have to option him back. But we’re back to a full complement of starters, we are going to stay with a five-man bench with the three catchers, that takes us to seven relief pitchers.”

Hernandez, a 25-year-old native of the Dominican Republic, was a first-round Class AAA Rule 5 pick by the Reds from the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2015. In five appearances for the Reds this year he pitched nine innings and gave up two earned runs and only two hits.

“We felt like Austin Brice is more of a true length guy, he has a starter’s history. But there is no question that Ariel will be back here before September. He is a big-leaguer and there are big, big days ahead for him,” said Price.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Former Reds closer and ex-Dayton Dragons pitching coach Doug Bair popped into the press box and brought up a memory of what Sparky Anderson told his players about Bair when they were together with the Detroit Tigers: “Bair might walk the bases loaded, but don’t worry about it because if he does he’ll then strike out the side.”

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