Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan’s performance Friday in his first game back from the disabled list did not go unnoticed by his teammates.
“You doubled your average,” Ryan Ludwick joked before Saturday’s game.
“Nowhere to go but up,” said Hanigan from across the clubhouse.
Hanigan went 2-for-4 to raise his average from .079 to .119 (5-for-42). He wasn’t in the lineup Saturday in the second game of the series against the Brewers at Great American Ball Park as Devin Mesoraco started, but a healthy Hanigan will be key for the Reds moving forward.
“I feel good again,” Hanigan said. “It’s nice to have some strength in your hand and not have to worry about the pain.”
Hanigan proved himself healthy and ready just two batters into Friday’s game. He chased down a foul pop and snagged it with a diving catch behind the plate.
“It was a fun play to get back in there first game and have a play like that right out of the gate,” Hanigan said.
“Most of the time when you’re off the DL, they’re going to do something that will test you,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “That’s the only way Hanny knows how to play. That’s why we wanted to make sure he was healthy when he came back. He doesn’t have much speed, but he’s a full-throttle type player.”
Rookie contributions: Donald Lutz didn’t get a hit in his first six big-league at-bats. Since then, he’s 5-for-10 with one hit in the last five games. He had a pinch-hit single Friday and scored the Reds’ third run in a 4-3 win.
“It was a great feeling,” Lutz said. “What I keep telling myself is just go up there and have fun.”
Lutz starts getting ready for pinch-hit opportunities in the third and fourth innings. When he saw Tony Cingrani was coming up second in the fourth inning and had just given up two runs, he started getting loose in the batting cage behind the dugout in case he was asked to hit.
“I was ready for it,” he said.
Lutz also showed off his speed, stealing second and then scoring on a single by Zack Cozart. For a big guy, he has some wheels, but Lutz said he’s not as big as the scoreboard lists him.
“It says up there I’m 250,” he said. “I’m like 235. That was last year. I lost like 20 pounds.”
Silver lining: If there’s a positive to come out of the Johnny Cueto injury, it’s that now the Reds have a better idea of what Cingrani can do. He lasted only four innings in Friday’s victory, but he’s 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA in five starts.
Cingrani has pitched well enough to give the Reds a tough decision when Cueto returns from the DL. Do they keep Cingrani or Mike Leake in the rotation? Time will tell.
“The silver lining is he’s gotten extended time here,” Baker said. “He’s put us in a position to win. If he had come up and got shelled, who would we turn to then? Who’s our next line of defense? Had he lost four of five starts, we’d be seven out or worse. He’s kept us in games.”
Cingrani learned a lesson Friday, Baker said. He can’t get by on fastballs alone.
“You can get by the first time through the lineup,” Baker said. “The second and third time through, it’s tougher. He’s going to have to come up with a secondary pitch.”
Heisey update: Reds outfielder Chris Heisey will began a rehab stint in Double-A Pensacola (Fla.) on Monday. He’s been on the DL since April 29 with a strained right hamstring.