Cozart could return as soon as Wednesday for Reds

Zack Cozart turns a double play for the Reds against the Cardinals. David Jablonski/Staff

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Zack Cozart turns a double play for the Reds against the Cardinals. David Jablonski/Staff

More often than not this season, Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price spends a good chunk of his pregame meeting with the media talking about injuries, which is probably only slightly more enjoyable for him than talking about losing.

The Reds have dealt with more than their fare share of injuries in 2017, and that’s a big reason their season has spiraled into the basement of the National League Central Division.

The Reds (31-44) opened a three-game series against the first-place Milwaukee Brewers (41-37) on Tuesday at Great American Ball Park needing a victory to avoid falling 14 games under .500 for the first time this season. As recently as June 8, the Reds were two games out of first place. On Tuesday, they were 8½ back.

Losing shortstop Zack Cozart, who leads NL shortstops in voting for the All-Star Game, for the last eight games with a right quadriceps strain hasn’t helped. He could be activated from the 10-day disabled list Wednesday.

“We’re trying to do the best we can to ensure that when we bring guys back and activate them, they’re ready to go,” Price said. “However, as we’ve seen, recurrences of injuries or new injuries can come up. We certainly would like for (Cozart) to be in a much higher percentile of no re-injury.”

Roster moves: The Reds made three roster moves Tuesday. They recalled right-handed pitcher Kevin Shackelford from Triple-A Louisville. He was 2-0 with a 1.53 ERA in 27 relief appearances. When Shackelford pitches, he will become the 10th Red to make his big-league debut this season.

Shackelford, 28, played at Marshall University. The Brewers drafted him in the 21st round in 2010.

“He’s performed at a high level,” Price said. “He’s handled the closing role (in Louisville). He’s been a multiple-inning guy. … He’s throwing good quality strikes. He’s got a little bit of a cut fastball.”

The Reds optioned relief pitcher Austin Brice to Louisville. He was 0-0 with a 5.47 ERA in 17 appearances. He allowed five earned runs on nine hits in two innings Monday.

The Reds also designated reliever Jake Buchanan for assignment. He was 0-0 with an 8.16 ERA in five appearances.

Injury update: The Reds didn't place starter Brandon Finnegan on the disabled list Tuesday, though that move is likely coming soon. He suffered a left triceps strain Monday in an 8-2 loss to the Cardinals in St. Louis. It was his first start since April 15.

The Reds have not announced who will take Finnegan’s place in the rotation on Saturday against the Cubs.

Looking ahead: Luis Castillo makes his second start in a 7:10 p.m. Wednesday game. He allowed two earned runs on five hits Friday in a 6-5 loss to the Nationals.

Homer Bailey will also make his second start of the season Thursday in the series finale against the Brewers. He will try to bounce back from a rough debut. In his return from the disabled list Saturday, he allowed eight earned runs in 1 2/3 innings.

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