The Scott Schebler shoulder saga added a chapter on Sunday, but “The End” could be just days away.
The Reds sent the outfielder to Double-A Pensacola for a medical rehab assignment they hope he can complete in time to meet them on Thursday in Chicago.
Schebler has been sidelined since spraining the AC joint in his right shoulder when he ran into the right field wall at Busch Stadium in St. Louis trying to make a catch on July 14. He went on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville in late July, but it lasted only seven games when he learned in his first game in the outfield after six as the Bats’ designated hitter that the injury kept him from throwing without pain.
The plan became no throwing for a while, then gradually working his way up to throwing without pain. Getting satisfactorily through a session of batting practice and throwing on Saturday left the Reds confident enough to send him out on a second rehab assignment.
“Schebler is leaving today,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said before Sunday’s series and home stand finale against San Francisco. “He will play the next three days at least. He will join us in Chicago at some point.”
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Cincinnati is scheduled to open a four-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Thursday.
The left-handed hitting Schebler was hitting .278 with 12 home runs and 37 runs batted in over 76 games when he was injured. The Reds have gone 11-16 in the 27 games he’s missed.
Shrewd pickup: Riggleman admits that he didn’t know much about Curt Casali before the Reds acquired the catcher from Tampa Bay for cash on May 31.
OK. Riggleman admits that he actually didn’t know anything about Casali before the Reds picked him up to take over for Tony Cruz as Tucker Barnhart’s backup behind the plate.
“I had seen the name through the years,” Riggleman said. “To be honest, Tony Cruz was doing a good job. The front office had an eye on Casali for a while if there was a waiver situation or whatever. He was a guy they had been targeting for a while, so when became available they got him.”
The acquitision is paying dividends. The sturdy, 6-foot-3, 235-pound Casali made on Sunday his 19th start since joining the Reds. Besides hitting .311 with three homers and nine RBIs in 30 games overall, he had gotten at least one hit in four if his last five games.
He also had caught two of the four shutouts posted by the Reds this season, while pitchers had posted a 3.36 earned-run average with him behind the plate and the Reds were 12-6 in his starts. Their ERA was 4.93 and the Reds were 38-52 in games started by regular Tucker Barnhart, a vastly larger sample size. The numbers no doubt would even out if their numbers of starts were more equal.
Casali, 29, also had thrown out just two of the 13 runners (15 percent) trying to steal on him, while the Gold Glove-winning Barnhart had nailed 11-of 47 (23 percent), but Riggleman remained pleased with Casali’s contributions.
“He’s hit well,” Riggleman said. “He’s got some big hits – some good at-bats. He does a good job behind the plate.”
Casali’s play has allowed Riggleman to use Barnhart as planned – about 70 percent of the time. Barnhart made his second start in three games at first base on Sunday, suggesting that Casali could see even more playing time.
Rehab II: Right-hander Jackson Stephens, on the disabled list since July 24 with a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee, made his fifth rehab appearance on Saturday for Triple-A Louisville. Stephens allowed four hits and four earned runs with two walks while throwing 45 pitches, 25 for strikes, in 1-1/3 innings.
Stephens has logged a total of 6-1/3 rehab innings.
Heading out: Right-hander Homer Bailey (1-10) is Cincinnati’s scheduled starting pitcher in Monday’s opener of a three-game series in Milwaukee. Bailey has made 27 starts and piled up 162-1/3 innings in his career against the Brewers, more than against any other team, and he is 7-10 with a 4.70 ERA against them.
Milwaukee reached him for six hits, including two home runs, and five runs in five innings of a 7-6 Reds loss on May 1 at Great American Ball Park. The Reds are 1-15 in Bailey’s starts this season.
Right-hander Chase Anderson (7-7) is Milwaukee’s scheduled Monday starter.