Boy, this is just brutal news, coming just as the Reds were showing real signs of playing some good baseball:

The bad news is they lost shortstop Jeff Keppinger to a fractured left kneecap.

Keppinger, who entered the game hitting a team-high .320, was hurt in the second inning after fouling a ball off his leg. An X-ray revealed a fractured left patella.

He is now on the 15-day disabled list. The Reds recalled from Class AAA Louisville infielder Paul Janish.

Reds manager Dusty Baker said the initial scan could have produced worse news, but it was still a “big blow.”

“It’s a really big loss, but you’ve got two choices: You can either feel sorry for yourself or you can figure out a way to get the job done,” Baker said.

Janish can certainly handle shortstop from a defensive perspective, but I just can’t see any way he’ll be able to handle the bat well enough to contribute much at the plate.

I’m not sure it matters. I expect Jerry Hairston to be the everday shortstop, and that could likely be a disaster. Especially since he’ll join fellow “Dusty Guy” Corey Patterson in eating up outs. Of course, while Hairston likely won’t eat up as many outs as Patterson, he will kill the Reds at shortstop defensively (at least Patterson plays a pretty good centerfield).

I’ve been trying to stay optimistic this season, and I’ve succeeded thus far. Gotta admit, though: I’m pretty discouraged today.

UPDATE: For those of you saying that it’s just fifteen days, chill out, I present this: Keppinger will be out 4-6 weeks, minimum.

And Jerry Hairston is starting at SS tonight. Hitting second, behind our awesome leadoff hitter Corey Patterson.

29 Responses

  1. Relient k Car

    Dude chill.
    Hairston may suck at fielding but he has been hitting well.
    and if he ends up blowing
    then we have Janish
    who i am actually excited about.
    Keppy will be back.
    and if only Bruce were riding shotgun in Janishs car on the way up too with bailey!
    that would be optimism!

  2. Mark in CC

    Bad news no doubt. Janish might suprise us with the bat. I never thought he would hit .290 in AAA but he was doing it. Hopefully Dusty has sense enough to play him.

  3. Alex

    Bring up Bruce, he plays CF. Play Freel at 2B. Play Phillips at SS. (Or play Freel at SS???)

    Griffey Jr.

    Defensively, this would not be great. Freel’s not a great 2B. Phillips hasn’t played SS in years. But, that line-up could be quite good. Make Hairston the utility guy. Use CraPatterson as your late inning defensive replacement. (Use Cantu as late inning right-handed power off the bench. Oh wait….)

  4. Mark T

    Based on my own experience, I’d say Keppinger is out for six weeks, with a another couple of weeks after that for physical therapy (the joint will be immobilized for the six weeks) and getting his stroke back. It’s bad, but could have been worse.

  5. DevilsAdvocate

    I agree with Relient above – take a breath. It’s a given that Keppinger being out is a bad thing. But it’s a great opportunity to at least see Janish and find out more about him and his capabilities.

    I can’t dismiss the guy before he’s even gotten a shot. One could say that plenty of organizations dismissed the notion of playing Keppinger regularly, and he was proving them wrong every day he hit in a Reds uniform.

    The notion of improving team defense – even at the cost of some offense – is growing on me. And watching guys like Jack Wilson and Adam Everett in the field is fun.

  6. Sultan of Swaff

    Here here. Bruce should be riding shotgun w/ Janish. Bruce’s bat is the only thing that could negate such a big blow. With him in center, you don’t need Janish’s offense. As it now looks, we’ve just added another automatic out to our already fragile lineup. It’s just not right that we should have to count on EdE and Votto MORE than the two highest paid guys on the team. Makes it real easy to be bitter toward Dunn and Griff. The pieces to win are there, they’re just spread across the whole damn organization.

  7. John of Muncie

    I have a hard time believing all the optimism about how soon Kepp will be back. AGon has been out since early March with a stress fracture, not a busted patella. If Kepp is back before August I’ll eat my hat.

  8. TylerS

    I think there is reason to be optimistic considering he still played the field after the injury.

    David Padgett from the University of Louisville basketball team suffered this same injury in the 2nd game of the season and was supposed to be out the entire year, but only missed 10 games (less than 2 months).

    I’d imagine the injury is much worse for a basketball player. Let’s hope he bounces back quickly!

  9. Matt McWax

    Yeah I think Bruce will be up like now. He’s seeing the ball well, the timing is great. Hairston off the bench or spot starts. I think they should let Janish start short, bat him low, and just give him a look. I would have liked to see him down there until September but I think you shore up the defense until AGon gets back.

  10. Andy

    Yeah lets have some perspective here. Keppinger was having a very good year and he was producing better than some of our “stars”, but still, he’s Jeff Keppinger. It’s not like we lost franchise cornerstone, perennial all-star. Not to mention that Janish is probably a defensive upgrade (especially range-wise), which could, in theory, make up for any offensive drop-off.

  11. Dan

    Please bring up Bruce. He’s hitting .350.

    Trade Patterson for a kick in the balls and call it even.

  12. daedalus

    keep broke his knee in 2005, too. he ended up missing half a season because of it. half a season. i think we’re looking at something long term here – at least the all star break.

    as people said before, the solution to the offense we’ll lose is simple: BRING UP BRUCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ❗ ❗ ❗ ❗

    (he’s only hitting .352/.378/.613 according to the bats website)

  13. Dave from Louisville

    Keppinger will definitely be back Dave Padgett style.

    Now only if the Reds could finish in the top 8 teams in baseball!!!

    Injuries happen, and if this team is dependent on Keppinger to win then we are already screwed.

    Janish’s glove is sick. The guy makes Phillips look like an slow old man.

  14. Jared

    I can’t remember specifically who but I know at least one of the RLN editors was consistantly saying how Keppinger was having a hot streak last year but would never be an every day SS. 9 months later and losing him for 15 days is a season ending disaster?

    This just seems like (yet another) “I’ve been thinking positive but this is the last straw” post. C’mon, we’re 6.5 games back in a weak division. Sure, the record sucks, but how much better does it really need to get?

    Lets look at the good news. Hairston has been playing well. Janish could end up being the next Keppinger. Our starters get a lot of strikeouts, limiting a weak SS’s chances to blow a game.

    If you want to think positive, do it. Quit ragging on Dusty, remember that injuries are part of the game, remember what Keppinger gets paid when you think of him being hurt, look wait for Voltron to get his 7th win in a few days.

  15. Chris

    I never cease to be amazed at the optimism (or maybe just contrariness) of some Reds fans. All is well, everyone is great. And the team is in last place.

  16. Chad

    If Kepp is only out 15 days, then this is just a minor problem. I cannot believe that will be the case.

    The reason this is a big deal is that Keppinger is the one of three players who have been good offensively this year. We can’t bear to lose his bat for any extended length of time, I’m afraid, especially when Patterson and Ross are in the lineup.

    As for comparing Janish with Keppinger, not a good analogy, IMO. Yeah, some people thought Kepp couldn’t be a MLB starter, but that was related to his defense. Kepp hit and hit well almost every stop along the way.

    Janish has never been anything with the bat; he’s had a decent month and a half this year, but still his OPS at AAA is under 800. No reason to expect he’ll hit here.

    That said, I’m looking forward to seeing his glove at SS. He will definitely be able to handle that aspect of the job. But there isn’t a defensive player in the world who is good enough to make up for being a sinkhole at the plate. Defense is important, but not more important than offense in the grand scheme of things.

    If Dunn, Junior, and Phillips were hitting, this would be less of an issue. They aren’t hitting, so there is significant reason for concern at losing one of the few consistent bats in the Reds everyday lineup.

  17. daedalus

    I never cease to be amazed at the optimism (or maybe just contrariness) of some Reds fans.

    I never cease to be amazed at the negativity of most Reds fans. A team playing in this environment will NEVER win. The team is 6 games under .500, not 20.

    Does anyone really believe Dunn is going to continue to hit like this?

  18. Chad

    Daedalus…you know that I ordinarily agree with you 100% on the optimism front.

    On the other hand, with a last place team after seven consecutive losing seasons, I can’t argue with anyone for being negative about this franchise.

    I see so much young talent here that I am generally pretty upbeat about the future of this franchise. But I’m very worried about the immediate future (with respect to losing Keppinger).

    I agree with your post at your blog…Free Jay Bruce!

  19. Kurt Frost

    Janish will rarely see the field, Dusty has a reason to play another of his boys and I don’t see him sitting Hariston.

    How come Reds management can’t see what a buffoon Baker is?

  20. Mike Martz

    What the Reds really need is one of the Veteran players to step up as a leader and kick some butts! If Griffey and Dunn would break out of their funk then the Reds could climb back into this thing in short order. 6.5 games back isn’t as bad as it could be the way they’ve been playing. I sure thought this would be the year that Dunn would take charge of the team as a leader. I guess all the spring training stories were just Dunn being a clown and not a team leader. I feel a team meeting is in order.

  21. John of Muncie

    For my part, I’m not trying to come off as negative, but for me perspective is important. Gonzalez is out with an injury that is comparatively minor and it’s looking like he’ll be out a total of 3 months. Where does that leave Keppinger? Plus I agree with the comments that if they’re relying on Kepp to win, this wasn’t a good situation to begin with — we are, after all, talking about a journeyman infielder pushing 30 who just started to hit. When he comes back, AGon will probably be back at SS, and then what?

    Also — whenever a Reds player gets hurt I say the same thing — “Don’t let this be like 1989…” — look it up if you want.

  22. Kurt Frost

    I just thank the good Lord Neifi Perez has an 80 day suspension hanging over his head.

  23. Chris

    I have no problem with general optimism. It’s the, “trust the Reds – everything will work out” thing I can’t understand.

  24. Jared

    I’d have to think at right around 100 pitches and 6 innings, it’s probably a good time to pull Arroyo. He finally had a quality start and I think it would be good to make sure you preserve that, and also get a better bat on deck.

  25. Jared

    ..but maybe he would be better used fouling off a couple bunts instead. What do I know.

  26. Relient k Car

    Did someone just rag Hairston?
    sadly he has been supplying more offense than most of the team combined