McCoy: Reds lose Sonny Gray for at least two starts

Right-hander left Tuesday’s game vs. Brewers with strained right groin

The Cincinnati Reds lost another arm out of their rotation for at least two starts, with no immediate plans for replacement.

Sonny Gray was placed on the 10-day injured list Wednesday with a right groin strain, an injury he incurred while warming up before the fourth inning Tuesday night against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Gray joins rotation member Jeff Hoffman on the IL. Hoffman is not expected back until early July.

ExploreGray leaves game early, Reds fall to first-place Brewers

Vladimir Gutierrez replaced Hoffman in the rotation and is 1-1 with a 2.70 earned run average. He is scheduled to pitch Wednesday night against Milwaukee in the second game of a three-game series.

“We don’t have an exact timetable (for Gray’s return),” said manager David Bell. “The best guess is missing two starts, so the severity could have been a lot worse. To me, that is the best-case scenario.

“I knew when he came out of the game, based on how he felt after the game, that it was at least be two starts. The fact that that might end up being the case is really good news.”

In 10 starts this season, Gray is 1-4 with a 3.42 earned run average and missing time again after early-season back issues.

Covering the two starts Gray certainly will miss is under discussion, but not resolved, according to Bell. He did not even discuss the options during a Zoom meeting with the media before Wednesday’s game.

“No plan yet, no plan in place yet for the rotation,” he said.

Joey Votto was back in the lineup for the second straight night after recovering from his broken left thumb. While he was gone, several players manned first base, but back-up catcher Tyler Stephenson did the bulk.

With Votto back, does that mean Stephenson’s playing time will be diminished. With Milwaukee starting left hander Brett Anderson Wednesday, Stephenson was in the lineup at catcher.

“We’ll work him in as much as possible,” said Bell. “He has shown that he is able to swing the bat. We’ve put him in the middle of the order when he plays. We’ll continue to find opportunities for him.

“Obviously, Tucker Barnhart is going to catch a lot,” added Bell. “Tyler is catching tonight, and it is back to where it was at the beginning of the year -- Barnhart against right handers and Stephenson against left handers and on day games after night games.

“The good news is that while Votto was out, it got Tyler more opportunities. He got him more at bats which will serve him more for the rest of the year. It wasn’t so much that he showed us anything, we already knew that. He just got more at bats than he otherwise would have gotten.”

Stephenson also will serve as a pinch-hitter on days he doesn’t start.

“In our league (with no designated hitter), when he doesn’t start he is going to get a lot of important pinch-hit at bats and come into games,” Bell said. “Those at bats help you win games.”

Stephenson, batting clean-up Wednesday, entered the game batting .260 with three homers and 13 RBI.

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