The next few weeks of Zack Cozart’s life and baseball career could be very interesting.
He came off the disabled list today after dealing for more than a week with a quadriceps muscle injury. The quadriceps is the large muscle in the front of the leg between the pelvis and knee. I’m not a doctor, but I did suffer a pulled quadriceps muscle during my “major league debut” at the first Reds Dream Week fantasy camp for fans in Tampa in 1986.
As you often hear determined athletes say, “There was no way I was coming out of that game no matter how much it hurt.” (I was determined, but in no way an athlete.) What I can tell you is it is very difficult to run or pivot on a major league baseball field (or anywhere else, for that matter) with a pulled quadriceps. But, Cozart is in the lineup tonight against the Cubs at Great American Ball Park.
Of high interest the last several weeks is Joey Votto’s promise to gift a donkey to Cozart if he makes the all-star team, which we will learn Sunday:
That promise from Joey Votto to Zack Cozart about the donkey?
— FOX Sports Ohio (@FOXSportsOH) June 29, 2017
Of more importance from the perspective of the Reds future is just how sore Cozart’s quadriceps remains. Two contending teams – the Washington Nationals and Arizona Diamondbacks – have had their shortstops felled with serious injuries which will keep them out for several weeks. This was the scenario the Reds front office was waiting for, as a way to harvest as much value as possible for Cozart via trade instead of allowing him to leave via free agency with no compensation. More on this scenario in this piece today by our Doug Gray.
Hopefully Cozart can resume his high-caliber play immediately. If not, that plan could be squelched. Even though he has had an all-star caliber first half of the season, his injury history will certainly deter interested teams if he doesn’t come back in a healthy, robust fashion.
Cozart has told the Reds front office he wants to stay, and would like to talk about a long-term contract. However, Dick Williams is unlikely to invest big dollars in a post-30-year-old infielder who has had only one exceptional year offensively. Cozart’s one opportunity for a humongous contract will almost certainly come from another franchise.
UPDATE, 6:44 p.m. ET: Dick Williams tells the Enquirer there is interest in exploring a contract with Cozart.
So in the coming weeks, Cozart may have to move to a new city and figure out what to do with his new pet donkey at the same time.
Mike Montgomery is a lefty whose peripheral stats are masked by a nifty 2.50 ERA. His xFiP and walk percentage are both higher than those of Feldman, the “stopper” of the 2017 Reds starting pitching corps if there is such a thing. Feldman gives the Reds a better chance to win consistently than any other starter, so he is a nice way to start off a series against the defending world champs.
Kevin Shackelford and Ariel Hernandez “ate” the middle innings last night following Homer Bailey’s early exit. Shackelford went back to Louisville today to make room for Cozart on the roster, so the only unavailable bullpen pitcher is probably Hernandez. It’s hard to say who will get the call if Feldman is pulled early. It might be Austin Brice, who is back after Brandon Finnegan went back on the disabled list.
|RF Jon Jay||CF Billy Hamilton|
|2B Ian Happ||SS Zack Cozart|
|1B Anthony Rizzo||1B Joey Votto|
|LF Willson Contreras||LF Adam Duvall|
|SS Addison Russell||3B Eugenio Suarez|
|C Victor Caratini||RF Scott Schebler|
|3B Javier Baez||2B Jose Peraza|
|CF Albert Almora Jr.||C Tucker Barnhart|
|P Mike Montgomery||P Scott Feldman|
The Cubs lineup is interesting – no Kris Bryant, Ben Zobrist or Jason Hayward, all out due to injury. If you’re going to do some damage to the Cubs, this is the time, it seems. Scooter Gennett is not starting for the Reds, but with Montgomery being a lefthander, that’s understandable. The primary reason the Brewers let Gennett go in the spring is his very poor numbers batting vs. lefties.
News and Notes
#Reds have allowed a HR in 22 straight games (48 HR in that time). That is the 4th-longest streak in the Majors since at least 1913.
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) June 30, 2017
What do you think of this discussion on MLB Radio earlier today? Maybe include Cozart in a larger package?
Victor Robles for Raisel Iglesias?
— MLB Network Radio (@MLBNetworkRadio) June 30, 2017
More on Robles, the Nationals’ top prospect, here.