Mesoraco Still Out

Reds fans hope it’s not “déjà vu all over again” after injuries sabotaged 2014 season. Homer Bailey is headed for Tommy John surgery and now there are some serious concerns that Devin Mesoraco may have a hip surgery in his future. Meanwhile, a couple of minor league veterans at Louisville are on alert to provide infield depth for the Reds.

More bad news on the injury front hit Cincinnati this season as comments from catcher Devin Mesoraco indicates that he’ll likely have to undergo a surgery to correct an ailment in his hip that has prevented him from seeing action behind the plate since the first week of the season. He’s still trying to avoid the knife, but if it does happen the time frame for his return would not be until late in the season. Actually, if Joey Votto’s injury last year is any indication, depending on how the Reds are faring in the race for postseason, it could mean that the next time he dons the gear would be in 2016.

That means that for the time being Brayan Pena will be the regular catcher for the Reds. He was not a high-profile free agent signing before last season, but Cincinnati has sure gotten mileage out of him as he filled in for Votto at first much of last year. Assuming no arrivals from outside of the system, Tucker Barnhart is now the team’s number two catcher. As of right now he’s still considered a rookie, but that status will expire this season for the 24 year-old. Thus far he’s gone 3-14 with a walk and two homers since his call-up this season after going 5-16 at Louisville.

One would figure that it’s only a matter of time before the parent team puts Mesoraco on the DL and fills his spot with another reserve. This might be even more urgent since Zach Cozart took a ball off his finger that took him out of Sunday’s game and kept him on the bench Tuesday. Any call-up won’t be a catcher since Barnhart has already arrived and it might be a good time for an infielder to be swinging a hot bat at Louisville.

Ivan DeJesus fits that bill with a .333 average. The 28 year-old came into the organization as a minor league free agent and went 14-35 (.400) with five walks in spring training. He has seen MLB action in 48 games previously, mostly with the Dodgers who drafted him in the second round back in 2005. If he does get the call then he’s on his way for his first big league action since 2012 with Boston. Actually the call may be a long time coming for DeJesus because he did a good job for Baltimore’s AAA team at Norfolk last season by hitting .282 AVG/.358 OB and he cracked .300 with a .380 OB at Indianapolis when he was with the Pirates in 2013. Defensively he plays both middle infield positions and he’s even made four appearances at first base this season.

Also swinging a hot bat is Irving Falu who’s hitting .368 in his first 18 games this season after going 11-38 (.289) with four walks in the Cactus League. He has experience in 47 MLB games including eleven each with Milwaukee and San Diego last season. Though not a lot of experience he’s managed to hit .277 (33-119)/.320 OB at the highest level. Falu has been around a while; he’s 31 years old and has been playing professionally since Kansas City selected him with a late-round pick in 2003. Last year he hit .291 AVG/.343 OB for Nashville.

Both candidates are about as good as the Reds could hope to select from as they’re sorting through minor league journeymen. That appears to be the only option for the Reds because they don’t have any middle infield prospects with much experience at the top levels of their system. DeJesus, the son of a long-time MLB’er might have an inside track since his play at shortstop has pushed Falu over to second base with the Bats, especially if Cozart is sidelined for much longer. If the regular’s hand doesn’t heal in the near future there could be a need to call on both of them. There are a lot of roster spots all over AAA occupied by veteran farm hands providing organizational depth. It appears that Cincinnati will soon show how well they did in acquiring middle infield talent during the past offseason.

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