Negron Living Large

Cincinnati has been in need of an offensive spark since their post-All Start slump so enter journeyman Kristopher Negron. Thursday was his third consecutive multi-hit game, all of them Reds wins by the Reds who are climbing back into position to make another run toward the top of the NL Central.

Cincinnati cruised to an early lead and held on for a 3-0 win over visiting Cleveland in the finale of a unique two away/two home series to bring home Ohio Cup for winning the series against their in-state rival for the first time since 2010. Billy Hamilton used his speed to get scoring started early against a shaky Indian defense by dropping a hit into shallow left field. The next batter Jay Bruce hit an infield single and Hamilton made the Tribe pay for their infield shift by taking an extra base and forcing an errant throw to third on which he scored. Bruce later crossed the plate on a Ryan Ludwick single. The Reds went back to work in the next frame when Homer Baily hit a two-out single and rounded the bases when Hamilton tripled behind him. The home team added on again in the sixth when Todd Frazier led off with a walk, stole second and scored on a hit by Kris Negron. < br>
Negron and Hamilton each had two of their team’s eight hits. Homer Bailey got the win for tossing seven scoreless innings over which he allowed only four hits/one walk and struck out eight. Manny Parra threw a scoreless eighth before Jonathan Broxton closed the contest by retiring the side in order in the ninth with a couple of strikeouts. Negron was named the Most Outstanding Player of the series.

If one were to interview Negron right now it would not be surprising to find him having the time of his life. After a horrid post-All Star slump Cincinnati was in dire need of some offensive help and how they’re getting some from an unlikely source. The 28 year-old Negron had appeared in only four MLB games before the season and is now 13-43 (.302) for the Reds with three homers in sixteen games. Though not wielding the glove like Brandon Phillips (who does?) he’s also getting the job done in the field while filling in at both second and third base.

Perhaps his contribution might not be as surprising to someone who noted his Spring Training performance when he cracked .300 in 43 AB before heading to Louisville to start his fifth season with the Bats. He continued to hit there, batting .269 AVG/.329 OB with three homers and enough extra-base hits to crack the .400 SLG level. That average is .040’ higher than any of his previous ones at the AAA level.

Negron began his baseball career after the Red Sox drafted him out of junior college in the seventh round in 2006. He’s been in the Reds system since they traded him for Alex Gonzalez in 2009. He had a nice AA season at Carolina in 2010 which earned him a promotion for seven AAA games at the end of the season. Perhaps the Reds had some notions that he might one day provide some action as an MLB utility player around the time of the trade, but it’s doubtful they envisioned any 2014 action back then.

Instead he slipped into the role of minor league filler, however now he’s taking advantage of an unexpected call-up and filling in solidly for the Reds. Second baseman Phillips has just been cleared to resume batting practice after a wrist injury and he will need a rehab, so it’s uncertain how long Negron will remain with the Reds. The way he’s hitting makes it look like he’s got no plans to leave any time soon. Depending on when Phillips is ready he might compete with Ramon Santiago for the utility middle infielder job. Santiago has been a nice surprise as well after the Reds signed him to a free agent contract before the season and has done well enough to hold onto the job. Even if Negron is the odd man out it likely won’t be for long because now that he’s on the 40-man roster he’s available for an expansion call-up.

Meanwhile the Reds will hope he continues to produce and give him opportunity to do so. Whether he was on the Reds before the season or not, Negron is enjoying the moment while contributing multi-hit games in each of his team’s last three wins. He may be a short-timer in the Cincinnati lineup, but the way he’s swinging the bat will make him a tough man to remove.

Cincy Hardball Top Stories