Cozart Out for Season

For the second year in a row injuries have started to sabotage the season for Cincinnati. No facet of the team has escaped the loss of players. There has been a lot of chatter for the Reds to have a fire sale to acquire prospects to expedite rebuilding efforts and another MASH unit campaign may move them into that mode.

After injuries short-circuited a disappointing 2014 campaign for Cincinnati it was a safe bet coming into this season that they would not have to contend with so many this year. Or was it? Homer Bailey is out for the season after Tommy John surgery. Marlon Byrd suffered a broken wrist when he was hit by a pitch. A hip injury is jeopardizing Devin Mesoraco’s season. Now the latest regular to hang up his cleats for the remainder of 2015 is shortstop Zach Cozart who underwent a season-ending surgery on his knee.

All injuries of that magnitude are extremely disappointing, but in Cozart’s case he was taken out of action while working on a breakout season. He’s always wielded a solid glove at an important defensive position, but it did not go unnoticed last year when his batting average slipped to a career worst .221. That didn’t prevent him from starting off with a hot bat this season and he was batting .353 after a three-hit game on April 21. He added power too with nine homers, more than double the total he finished with last year and his slugging percentage jumped from a dismal .300 to .459. He was also on track for his first season with an on-base percentage over .300. Now you can take those numbers and freeze them as season totals because his rehab is expected to take around nine months.

Ailments have also kept Billy Hamilton and Brandon Phillips out of games, but neither of them has been considered season-threatening. Covering for those players will be quite some challenge for a team considered thin on depth to begin with. Some were surprised when trade return Eugenio Suarez didn’t make the opening day active roster and the explanation was given that they preferred he go to Louisville where he’ll see more regular action. Now with the absence of Cozart it appears he’ll be a regular at the MLB level.

Throughout the challenges that Cincinnati has dealt with this season, one area of excitement has been the performance of rookie pitchers that have taking over the rotation. Well…..not so fast. Monday night Jon Moscot separated his shoulder while tagging out a runner in a rundown. Fortunately it is not his pitching arm, but he’ll spend considerable time on the DL. When he gets there he’ll join Raisel Iglesias with an oblique strain and southpaw Tony Cingrani who has a strain in his left shoulder.

With the accumulation on the DL it’s easy to forget about Sean Marshall who hasn’t pitched regularly since 2012 and is coming off shoulder surgery this season. The only other Red on there (for now) is Jason Bourgeios who has spent most of his time in the organization at Louisville. Recent reports indicated good news that during Marshall’s surgery found only scar tissue which means there’s a possibility he could pitch this year. However he’s in the last year of his contract so he may have made his last trip to the mound in a Reds uniform.

In the meantime Cincinnati fans can get ready for a generous helping of Kris Negron, Brandon Boesch, Nate Adcock, Pedro Villarreal, et al. Current lists of top Cincinnati prospects have been top heavy with pitchers leaving reason to believe they would be better prepared to cover for injuries on the mound. Well, that was the case before the prospects started getting hurt too. Rookie David Holmberg may be getting a call to take Moscot’s next turn in the rotation. He’s got a mid-four ERA this year for Louisville, but his last five appearances have been quality starts and his earnie has been below three over that span.

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