By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — The Domino Effect attacked the Cincinnati Reds outfield situation with a vengeance Saturday afternoon.
Without Nick Senzel the outfield already was overcrowded. With the arrival of Senzel Friday the outfield became more crowded than seven people booked for six seats on an airline flight.
To alleviate it, the Reds gave Matt Kemp his outright release and dispatched slump-bitten Scott Schebler to Class AAA Louisville. In addition, relief pitcher Cody Reed was recalled from Louisville.
Even before Kemp lapsed onto the injured reserve list, his presence ate some playing time that should have been given to Jesse Winker, a player whose future is with the Reds. Kemp could become a free agent after the season and when he played he was not producing — .200 in 60 at bats and five RBI.
Manager David Bell acknowledged that the ‘regular’ outfield will be Winker in left, Senzel in center and Yasiel Puig in right, “With Derek Dietrich, Jose Peraza and Michael Lorenzen available if needed.”
Bell refuses to blame the moves on the team’s offensive struggles. He said the team is not in any kind of panic mode, that this was not a drastic shake-up that was needed.
“It is not anything to shake things up,” he said. “We’re not satisfied where we are, not even close. We are looking for ways to improve every day. We are not at the point where we need to shake things up. There are a lot of good things happening.
“Last night was disappointing (blowing an 8-0 lead and losing 12-11 in 11 innings), but we look at things overall over the last two weeks and a lot of good things have happened. I don’t want to say we’ve played well because our expectations are very high.”
SCHEBLER, OPTIONED TO Louisville, was a physical and mental mess at the plate and it seemed to get worse by the day. He is hitting .123 with two homers and seven RBI and 27 strikeouts in 81 at bats.
“This is really what is best for Scott Schebler,” said Bell. “And what is best for us as an organization is what is best for Scott. We believe in him and we need him.
“But the timing is right to do something, to allow some time for Scott to make some adjustments and get regular playing time,” he added. “That is what this is all about, plus we get Cody back and he has been pitching well and we’re happy to have him.”
With Kemp, the Reds are still on the hook for his $20 million salary this year, unless another team signs him.
“With Matt it was about not delaying it (until he came off the injured list), we didn’t want to delay that decision,” said Bell. “We felt the way our outfield is constructed he wasn’t going to be a part of that mix.
“We just didn’t see a great fit with Matt,” Bell added. “He obviously has been a great player and had a great career, but at this point how our outfield is shaping up he just wasn’t going to get playing time.”
SENZEL MADE HIS major league debut Friday night, batting second, and went 1 for 5 with two walks and two strikeouts. His first major league hit was a slow dribbler up the third base line and he said, “I’ll take it,” even though Scooter Gennett asked him jokingly, “What was the exit velocity on that hit?”
It would be expected that a No. 1 draft pick making his game debut would be overanxious and jumpy, drowning in adrenaline. Not Senzel. He displayed amazing plate discipline in his debut, drawing two walks. And his first two at bats took eight pitches and six pitches.
“He did show patience, for sure,” said Bell. “He has proven to be a good hitter, a talented hitter for most of his life. That plate discipline, yet his aggressive approach that he has, that’s what is going to allow him to have success at the major league level.
“He does not have a passive approach despite his plate awareness. It is an aggressive approach,” Bell added “It will lead to him getting on base and drawing walks, but he’ll still do damage.”
After batting second in his debut Friday, Bell dropped him down to seventh to do his damage Saturday night.