The second half of the season got out to a terrible start for the Cincinnati Reds. In the 1st inning of the first game after the All-Star break Tyler Stephenson took a foul ball off of his right shoulder. The trainer came out and checked on him and he remained in the game. The next play was a chopper in front of the plate that Stephenson fielded and as he pulled his arm back to throw to first he winced in pain, didn’t throw the ball, and went to a knee – dropping the ball at his feet in the process. He then left the game and was replaced by Michael Papierski.

Update at 8:40pm ET

The Cincinnati Reds announced that Stephenson broke his right clavicle – also known as his collar bone. His timetable for return is still unknown.

Original article continues below

It’s been a tough season for Tyler Stephenson in his second full season in the big leagues. He broke his thumb earlier in the year after he took a foul ball off of it. Stephenson missed a month due to that injury, returning for the week prior to the All-Star break. He played in seven games and had hits in six of them. The catcher is hitting .319/.372/.482 on the season.

The Reds are not in a good situation with catchers right now. Backup catcher Aramis Garcia is currently on the injured list with a finger injury. If Stephenson has to head back to the injured list it will mean that it’s likely Michael Papierski would become the starting catcher. Mark Kolozsvary is the only other catcher that is currently on the 40-man roster. He’s been up with Cincinnati a few different times this season. He’s currently in Triple-A with the Louisville Bats. He’s played in 24 games with the Bats (and another four with Double-A Chattanooga), and he’s hitting .200/.302/.333. In his seven games with the Reds this year he’s gone 1-11 with a double and five strikeouts.

Earlier this year the team opted to call up Chris Okey, adding him to the 40-man roster, instead of calling up Kolozsvary. Okey was designated for assignment and sent to Triple-A and is no longer on the 40-man roster, He’s played in 31 games with Louisville this season and is hitting .264/.319/.448 on the season. He went 2-12 in seven games when he was up with the Reds.

57 Responses

  1. docproc

    Reds must look for a young catcher in a Castillo deal.

      • Jon

        An average first baseman is better than a catcher on the IL.

      • Jon

        And it’s not like the Reds have any up-and-coming first basemen in their system to replace Votto.

      • [email protected]

        Jon
        What do you mean the Reds don’t have any first basemen in the system to replace Votto? That simply is not true. The Reds have Alex McGarry who is a first basemen and who has been tearing up AA.

      • Luke J

        Not sure why people say this. Stephenson is hitting .319 with an .854 OPS. That is well above average, even for a first baseman. That’s star first baseman level.

      • [email protected]

        Luke, Stephenson is hitting .319 in only 166 at bats. He has only 6 homes runs, which yes is below average for a corner infielder.

      • Luke J

        Tim, home runs is not the only stat that matters. OPS includes power and his is plenty high. You can’t say it’s only 166 AB to poo poo his average then turn around and say a counting stat is low. He is in no way below average for a first baseman. That’s objectively incorrect.

      • greenmtred

        He hasn’t had enough at-bats to be labeled as average. He’s still developing, and even with the injuries, he’s hitting .300+–nearly a rarity these days.

      • Old-school

        @GMR- I’m on the move Stephenson to 1b train. I think he will be an elite hitter no matter the position and the best trait of any player is availability and the best way to mitigate things to get Stephenson’s healthy bat in the line up 150 games is put him at first base. Paul Goldschmidt is AS caliber at 34.

        That said, I dont think it matters much as both Stephenson and Bell said after the game he’s a catcher .Time will tell how the throwing comes back but I cant see him playing this year. That would require healing time and then rehab time, which would be significant for a catcher healing a broken bone attached to his throwing shoulder.

        Best case scenario he heals up 100% and the Reds plan a more hybrid role in 2023 where he plays more first base and DH to allow his bat in the lineup more games and less catching wear and tear. Unless his recovery complicates his throwing, It appears Reds aren’t moving him off C and there wont be any catchers headlining a Castillo trade.

    • VegasRed

      Not so much, not to fill the hole for this year anyway. Nothing happening this year no matter who they trade for.

      If your point is for next year or next few years, so we can protect TS or give him a grea back up, then by all means.

      I would love a trade with the padres to land Hassle or a group of the dodger talent. I don’t trust yankee prospects as they have a hyped value. Seattle and the twins have a lot of talent. Krall has to get this right.

  2. Soto

    Well. I guess I jinxed the reds with my “best lineup of the year” comment. That didn’t last long. I’ve been following the reds religiously since 1975, I can’t remember a club so snakebitten with injuries. Hopefully we get them out of our system during this gawd awful season.

  3. Votto4life

    Stephenson is turning into another Nick Senzel.

    • Jonathan

      @Votto4life – just stop. Really? Only because he got injured twice in one season…come on man. Look at big picture

      • JohnnyTV

        Actually “another Devin Mesoraco” is a worse thing to contemplate.

      • Votto4life

        Jonathon, I am sorry if you don’t like someone expressing an opinion on a discussion forum where, you know, people express their opinions.

        So no, I won’t “just stop”. Don’t like it? scroll past it.

      • Mark Moore

        And let’s remember two of Nick’s injuries were vertigo and on the COVID list. But that doesn’t fit the “fragile Nick” narrative well.

      • Bill

        Actually this is the third time this year, but agree this is not the same as Senzel. Stephenson has been involved in a collision at home plate, and had two foul balls break/fracture something. All these are a result of being a catcher. Senzel dealt with vertigo early in his career and has injured about every part of his body over three years – shoulder, knee, elbow, hamstring, thumb, heel, back

        The broken bones are bad luck, the concussions would be the part to worry me and force a position change

      • Jonathan

        All im saying is…is that 3 injuries in a season doesn’t make someone injury promote. Maybe if you have 5+ years or something like that of missing significant time would be considered injury prone. Larkin was injury prone and had the track record. Stephenson is in year 2. Senzel has delt with COVID and vertigo- not typical injuries

    • Luke J

      One of the most ridiculous comments of the year. On several levels.

  4. LT

    That’s too bad. Senzel and India both need to step up at the bottom and top of line up. I don’t care what happens in the next series. Just beat the Cards!

    • SteveO

      6 to 8 week recovery period. Should go on the 60 day IL tomorrow.

      • LT

        And The I trainer checked on him and let him stay in the game?

  5. LT

    When was the last time Pham had an xtra base hit?

  6. LT

    Let’s not count his double hit at Joc 🙂

  7. Beaufort Red

    On another subject, isn’t it time to drop Pham out of the third spot?

  8. SteveO

    The Reds should also seriously look at Free. Switch hitter in Chattanooga that looks better offensively than Kolozsvary. He can also play 1B and a decision needs to be made this off-season to put him on the 40 man roster or possibly lose him to the rule 5 draft. A couple of years younger than Kolozsvary too. Chuckie Robinson another non roster option sharing time with Okey in Louisville. All options unless we can obtain a catcher like Alvarez, Moreno or Campusano in a Castillo trade with the Mets, Blue Jays or Padres.

    • SteveO

      Didn’t mention Cartaya or Ford because I think they’re too far from the bigs at the moment. Same for Wells.

    • Redsvol

      James Free has a lot of passed balls in Chattanooga this year- and I’m not much playing time. He’s a decent hitter but I’m not sure he can catch. Rather count on chuckie Robinson.

  9. SteveO

    Kolozsvary wasn’t in the lineup tonight for the Bats. The Bats are at home, so no rush to get to Cincinnati until tomorrow if he is the choice. Free 2-2 tonight for the Lookouts with current .284 BA.

  10. JohnnyTV

    I didn’t see the Stephenson injury but have been wondering how that area of the chest / shoulder isn’t better protected.

    Freak trajectory of ball?

    • Luke J

      His right shoulder isn’t covered by the chest protector. It has a cutaway for ease of throwing.

      • JohnnyTV

        Got it, but it still seems like there’s design improvement to be had.

        I’m no expert, obviously, but I enjoy looking at old armor collections in museums to see how the joints were designed for movement and also protection.

        I work with a guy who has funding from GM to design adjustable pneumatic car seats.

        He’s been doing work of a similar nature with football uniforms.

        Got to be a way to overlap / overlay the protection to allow for rapid right arm movement as well as protection.

        Catcher’s gear has come a long long way even from J Bench.

        Still a ways to go in my amature opinion.

      • Luke J

        Yeah, there are definitely chest protectors with more coverage. In fact, the cardinals catcher had a pad over both shoulders. Stephenson must prefer the one with less protection.

    • PTBNL

      those chest protectors need better design, period. Foam don’t stop 100+.

      It was a foul tip.

      The trainer, etc. didn’t even have Tyler test out his arm by throwing it a few times. Yikes.

  11. Brad

    I keep reading that some people want to move Stephenson to 1st base or the outfield because he is to valuable. Who would you have play catcher? This team can’t afford to have a 210 (or lower) hitter behind the dish. If we keep moving people because they get hurt then we will have eight 1st basemen. You need to let guys play where they are best at and quit playing them out of their natural positions.

    • greenmtred

      Well, Stephenson has missed plenty of time this year, and is about to miss another 6-8 weeks, so somebody else is going to play catcher. It would be great if the Reds could find a catcher with passable offence, but I have to say I find the fixation with positional-hitting expectations puzzling: If your best power hitter is a middle infielder instead of a corner guy, so what?

      • BigRedMike

        I see very little reason to continue to play Stephenson at catcher. Move him to 1B and rotate with Votto at DH.
        Plenty of catchers out there to play solid defense and hit some. Keeping a good hitting player at catcher just seems like poor roster management in todays game

  12. Kevin H

    There is no difference between Senzel and Stephenson getting hurt. They play the game and hustle and injuries happen. Catching position can be a adventure and Stephenson can’t stay healthy. Center field as well can be a tough position and Senzel injures have been from hustling. Not to mention vertigo and covid

  13. William

    Keep Stephenson at catcher. Johnny Bench was injured many times. It comes with the job. It just shows the need of depth at that position.

      • Jim Walker

        In the decade of his age 20’s seasons (1968-77), Bench appeared in 1487 games, 1422 of these were as a starter. He caught in 1366 of these games. Thus on average, he was appearing in 149 games a season, starting 142 and catching 137.

        Over this decade, the minimum number of games he appeared in during a season was 142, 121 of them as a catcher (also the minimum number of games caught in a season during the decade of seasons).

        While Bench had some more serious and longer duration injuries later in his career, during his prime he and the Reds never had to confront an in season situation such as Stephenson and the Reds have this year.

        https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/benchjo01.shtml

    • Mark A Verticchio

      Johnny Bench was also surrounded by a line up of all stars so when he was injured the team didn’t miss his bat nearly as bad as the Red’s miss Stephenson’s.

  14. RedsGettingBetter

    Why not to give a shot to Chuckie Robinson? Take advantage of the catcher problem and the lost 2022 season to let some guys showing his skills as they did with Okey before… Robinson seems to be a better hitter than Kolozsvary and Okey also….

  15. MK

    In the Baseball Dictionary where the tern Sophomore Jinx appears there should be a photo of Tyler. To say he would be an average hitting first baseman, that is hard to predict if he didn’t have the wear and tear of catching. Plus an average hitting first baseman might be refreshing.

    • Jim Walker

      It is like they sort of have a valley at 1B this year following all those peaks at 1B when the rest of the team was as bad or worse as this year’s team is overall. 😉

  16. Votto4life

    Let’s look at first basemen by War in 2021

    Tyler Stephenson current War is 1.7

    Here is a list of guys who played at first base sometime in 2021 and had a higher WAR than 1.7

    1. V. Guerrero
    2. Paul Goldschmidt
    3. M.Olson
    4. F.Freeman
    5. M. Muncy
    6. J.Votto
    7. Y.Gurriel
    8. P. Alonso
    9. T. France
    10. C.j Crom
    11.Anthony Rizzo
    12. Josh Bell
    13. Johnathon Schoop 1B/2B
    14. Y. Diaz
    15. J. Abreau

    So Tyler Stephen’s as a first basemen would be in the middle of the pack (I.e. average)

    This is the reason the Reds have no intention of moving him to first base.

    • Old-school

      Except Tyler’s only played in 50 games and 180 at bats because of catching injuries. For him its not even Memorial Day. Those other guys have 400 at bats in late July playing every day and healthy because they aren’t catching every day.

      Give Stephenson a first baseman’s mitt and a healthy head,shoulder, and hand all year long and 400 at bats instead of 180 and he’s right with the top 5.

      His fWAR in 50 games of 1.6 and his wRC+ Of 135 and his OPS of .854 will play anywhere. Now triple those number over 150 games and elite offensive production.

      • Votto4life

        Except It’s not going to happen. Cite one quote by Nick Krall or David Bell where they have said they are going to move Tyler Stephenson to first base. Just one quote.

        The only place it is ever mentioned is here.

      • BK

        It certainly won’t happen this season or next.

      • Old-school

        @V4L

        We agree

        Its not going to happen… unless Stephenson recovery hits a snag and we all pray that doesnt happen.

    • Kevin H

      Plus Stephenson has said he is a catcher and where he want to stay. No thought of switching positions.