Noelvi Marte’s arrival in the majors is the big news out of Cincinnati today, but Marte’s promotion came with a notable corresponding move. The Reds announced that infielder Kevin Newman was placed (retroactive to August 16) on the 10-day injured list due to a left oblique strain.
The severity of the injury isn’t yet known, though even if Newman has suffered a Grade 1 strain, any setback or lingering effects could mean that his 2023 season is over. The 30-year-old has hit .253/.311/.364 over 253 plate appearances in his first season with the Reds, after being acquired from the Pirates back in November.
Newman and Jose Barrero shared the starting shortstop role before Matt McLain’s promotion in mid-May, as Barrero was ultimately sent to the minors and Newman became a pure utilityman. Newman made some starts at second base and third baseman, but even that playing time dwindled as more and more of Cincinnati’s star infield prospects gradually made their way to the Show.
This is Newman’s second IL stint of the year, after he missed a 10-day minimum in July dealing with gastritis. Heading into the trade deadline, Newman was seen as a potential or even likely trade chip given the Reds’ increasingly crowded infield picture, yet Cincinnati either couldn’t find an appropriate deal or simply opted to hang onto the veteran as an experienced depth option. Rather than a trade, this oblique injury has now unfortunately taken Newman out of the picture for at least the next 10 days.
Manager David Bell provided the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Charlie Goldsmith (X link) and other reporters with updates on other injured Reds players, including the news that Jonathan India will undergo another MRI on Thursday. Since a previous MRI revealed a worsened tear in India’s plantar fascia, the second baseman was already expected to be out of action until at least a week into September, with some question as to whether or not India would be able to return at all this season.
The next MRI comes a few days before the end of India’s planned two-week shutdown from running, so the test will reveal if the tear has continued to widen, or if the shutdown has been effective in at least limiting the damage. It seems likely that India will require some type of procedure to address his plantar fasciitis, though he and the Reds hope that any surgery might be able to be held off until the offseason.
Bell also said that Ben Lively will make another rehab outing before the club considers reinstating him from the 15-day IL. Lively has twice been sidelined due to right pectoral strains this season, with his most recent absence starting with his IL placement on August 2. With his 15 days now up, Lively is eligible to be activated at any time, though he has thrown only 5 2/3 combined innings over two previous rehab starts, with an ungainly 15.88 ERA.
The injuries to India and Newman have provided an unwelcome answer to Cincinnati’s potential infield surplus, as there is now plenty of room for the Reds to find playing time for their up-and-comers. Bell said that Marte will be the regular third baseman, with Spencer Steer now moving into more regular work in left field. Steer has already seen a good deal of left field time this season, as his versatility has been almost as useful to the Reds as his potent bat. Steer has bounced between left field, first base, and third base, and also even picked up a few appearances as a second baseman.
Jake Fraley is another Reds player looking to return from the IL before 2023 is over, though Fraley told Goldsmith that he’ll need offseason surgery to properly fix a fracture in his left foot and a cracked fourth metatarsal. Fraley was presented with the option of undergoing the season-ending procedure now, but he is instead trying to tough it out, ramping up his baseball activities to include a live batting practice today and an increased running program.
There’s certainly some real risk for Fraley, as he said that doctors told him that playing on the fractured foot could result in a clear break. However, “the reason why they’re ok with me playing through this is that even if I do something like that, which would be a worst case scenario, it doesn’t change the recovery time of the surgery,” Fraley said, noting that he is expected to be ready for the start of Spring Training. Fraley is willing to gamble further injury in order to be part of the Reds’ playoff push, saying “if you tell me there’s a 1% chance with a cool team like this, I’m going all-in.”