The guy without a name above the No. 6 on the back of his Dayton Dragons’ jersey Thursday night was Malik Collymore. The name wasn’t missing because he just got to town. He played here last year and wore that same number.
“Turns out they lost it,” Collymore said of the jersey he wore last year. “Everyone was actually calling me Randy because they looked at the program and saw Randy Ventura.”
Ventura played in seven games for the Dragons at the end of the season’s first half. Now that the second half of the split-season format has begun, Ventura is playing in high A Daytona in the Florida State League and Collymore is in Dayton after a stay in extended spring training.
Collymore made a name for himself in his return to Dayton with an RBI double and solo home run.
“I’m happy to be back playing,” he said. “I love playing in Dayton. It’s a great environment. I just wanted to have some fun today and swing at good pitches.”
However, the Dragons suffered a 3-2 loss to the South Bend Cubs despite a good seven-inning start from Andrew Jordan (1-3). The Dragons have lost 12 of their last 14 games.
The Cubs scored a controversial run in the fifth to take a 3-1 lead. Brandon Hughes was credited with a solo homer to left after the ball bounced back on to the field. It appeared he had doubled off the top of the wall, but the umpires huddled and decided it was a home run.
Collymore followed a leadoff double by Mark Kolozsvary in the fifth inning with a double into the left-field corner to cut South Bend’s lead to 2-1. Collymore cut the lead to 3-2 in the seventh with a home run high off the screen down the left-field line. It was Collymore’s 12th homer in over 800 minor-league at-bats since he started rookie league ball with the Cardinals in 2013.
“I just focused on being on time, and he threw me a pitch in my wheelhouse,” he said. “When I get them, they’ll go.”
Collymore was one of several roster moves within the Reds’ organization Thursday. In addition to Ventura, the Dragons saw outfielder Stuart Fairchild move up to Daytona. Fairchild was a Midwest League all-star after batting .277 with seven homers, 37 RBIs, 17 stolen bases and a .377 on-base percentage in the first half. Relievers Tyler Buffett (6.67 ERA) and Dauri Moreta (8.25 ERA) were sent down to Billings.
Collymore, 23, was signed by the Reds in 2017 after being released by the Milwaukee Brewers. He played in 34 games with the Dragons and batted .222 before moving up to Daytona.
“He hustles and plays hard,” Dragons manager Luis Bolivar said. “I had him last year and I was very impressed with the way he was playing. So I have a lot of respect for him. He doesn’t give up and he keeps fighting and waiting for his chance.”
Collymore started this season by playing 19 games in Daytona and batting .235. He plays all three outfield positions and can also play second base.
“I’ve had a crazy ride,” he said. “Not too many guys have been through what I’ve been through. I think it makes me stronger and I just want to have fun with it. I’m not worried about nothing.”
Not even if his name is above the No. 6.
“Everyone’s telling me to keep it off and just go no-name,” Collymore said. “But I’ll have it on by the weekend.”