Jose Reyes returns to the lineup Tuesday night -- batting from the right side only -- and the Reds have a present for the ailing shortstop: a left-handed starter.
Reyes, batting leadoff, has been sidelined for the past five games after injuring his right oblique Wednesday in Puerto Rico. Though Reyes and manager Jerry Manuel both say the injury doesn’t limit Reyes’ baserunning or defense, the switch-hitting Reyes will be limited to swinging from his natural right-handed stance in the game.
"I talked to Jerry yesterday," Reyes said. "I say, ‘I’m gonna play there, no matter if he’s left or right. I’m ready to play, just from the right side.’ So no problem with me, I just want to be in the lineup."
Aiding Reyes’ return is a switch in the pitching matchup. Righty Aaron Harang was originally scheduled to pitch, but was scratched for the second straight day. He was scratched yesterday for lower back pain.
In his spot will be Matt Maloney, who will be making his first start of the season. Maloney was 2-4 with a 4.87 ERA in seven starts last season as a rookie.
Reyes had planned to hit -- albeit from the right side -- even if Harang started, noting that he had hit right-handed against a right-handed pitcher before, namely knuckleballer Charlie Haeger and Yankee closer Mariano Rivera.
"My first two years from the left side, broken bat all the time," Reyes said about facing Rivera. "So I had to say enough, I’m gonna hit from the right side and see what happens."
Manuel expressed confidence his shortstop wouldn’t be limited from a defensive standpoint.
"He’s worked out real well the last couple days defensively," he said. "(Third base coach) Chip Hale says he’s ready to go."
And though normal base running shouldn’t present any challenges, Manuel said he’s hoping Reyes stays away from sliding into bases head-first, as is his custom.
"The head-first slide could be an issue," he said. "I think he knows that and hopefully he will not instinctively go that way and slide feet first and be somewhat under control."