Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett will be sidelined for the next 8-12 weeks due to a right groin strain, Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (Twitter link). Gennett suffered the injury yesterday during the second inning of the Reds’ Spring Training game, while making an awkward slide on a fielding play.
The news is a major blow to a Reds team that had a busy offseason in preparation for a return to contention in the NL Central. Now, Cincinnati will have to wait until mid-May at the earliest to welcome back their All-Star second baseman.
Gennett has been nothing short of outstanding since joining his hometown team prior to the 2017 season, as the infielder has hit .303/.351/.508 with 50 homers over 1135 plate appearances in a Reds uniform. Originally seen as something of a utility infield option when he first arrived with the team, Gennett’s emergence made him into an unexpected building block for the Reds, and perhaps even a long-term answer at second base (though recent extension talks hadn’t delivered much progress).
Gennett is scheduled to hit free agency after the season, and while the 29-year-old can still produce quite a bit over three or four months of action, his hopes of a big platform year have now been dented by this lengthy stint on the IL. He’ll have to hope for a relatively quick recovery and then no lingering after-effects from his groin strain, though on the plus side, Gennett has been a pretty durable player throughout the rest of his big league career.
The vacancy at second base will be filled by Jose Peraza, whose former shortstop role will be assumed by minor league signing Jose Iglesias. Peraza took a big step forward at the plate last season and actually grades out better defensively as a second baseman than as a shortstop, so the Reds should be in decent shape at the keystone. Iglesias is one of the sport’s better defensive shortstops, so he’ll bring value to the everyday lineup even if his hitting has generally been subpar. Derek Dietrich, also in camp on a minors contract, was already expected to make Cincinnati’s roster, and Gennett’s absence should solidify Dietrich’s spot as a backup utilityman.
Nick Senzel’s status won’t be impacted by the Gennett news, Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams told reporters (including C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic). The top prospect has played second base in the past, though Senzel is still ticketed to begin the season at Triple-A and will be playing as a center fielder, in order to eventually help the Reds at that position.