It happens every year and it happens to every team, but the spring training injury bug has popped up in camp in Goodyear for the Cincinnati Reds early. Infielder Matt McLain tweaked his oblique in a similar area as he did last year (which cost him the final five weeks of the season), as reported by Gordon Wittenmyer of the Cincinnati Enquirer. As of right now McLain will be sidelined for the next 5-7 days.

We’ll have to see how things go, but it’s better to have these things pop up early in the spring than later as it gives players more time to recover and possibly still be ready for the start of the season. Of course, the Cincinnati Reds have a lot of infield depth if they need someone to step in. McLain is slated to play second base this year, with a little bit of time at shortstop. At second base the team could look to Jonathan India or even Spencer Steer if they wanted to. Jose Barrero could then potentially step into the backup role at second if he has a solid spring and makes the team.

The best solution would be that McLain can get back to 100% and be ready to go when the season begins. The 2nd year player was arguably the teams best player in 2023. He hit .290/.357/.507 with 14 steals in 89 games played. His 3.7 bWAR was second on the club, just behind TJ Friedl. Friedl, though, played in 49 more games than McLain did.

Things don’t always go as planned, though. And it seems that the Reds learned that lesson last year and went to the offseason with a plan to try and do all that they could to have contengencies for it in 2024. Signing Jeimer Candelario and not trading away Jonathan India gave them a ton of infield depth. They did similar things with the pitching, adding more quality big league arms while keeping everyone else around.

78 Responses

  1. LDS

    Terrific start to spring training. Gives Bell the opportunity to play Candelario at 2B, which he indicated he wanted to do in an interview earlier this off season.

    • Michael B. Green

      Are you serious? Tell me that is not the case. Does the guy value defense at all?

      • LDS

        No, it’s real. After all, Candelario hasn’t played any 2nd his entire ML career. As I’ve said repeatedly, garnering much criticism, Bell is trying to turn everyone into a utility player as he was. Contrary to what too many here think, utility is not always an asset.

      • wkuchad

        “As I’ve said repeatedly” – agreed!

        I seriously doubt Candelario plays much or any 2B. But all I really care about is Marte primarily playing 3B, EDLC primarily playing SS, McLain primarily playing 2B, and CES primarily playing 1B. And if that happens, why wouldn’t you want Candelario to attempt to backup as many positions as possible.

      • LDS

        @wkuchad, why would you? Candelario is starting, likely resting no more than Votto did. His career has been 1B & 3rd. No reason to try to convert a 30 year old to a new position after eight seasons. Clueless would be a generous description of Bell’s strategy.

      • greenmtred

        He didn’t say he wanted him to be the starting 2nd baseman.

      • Michael B. Green

        Mike Moustakas, in 2019, finished 14th in the NL in DRS, 17th in the NL in DPR, and 15th in RngR (at least 350 Innings).

        In 2020, he was dead last (16th) in RngR, and 12th in DRS (at least 200 innings).

        I’m guessing that is the bar for Candelario in terms of playing 2B. Moustakas had the shift to help him too. Candelario doesn’t.

        Candelario should not play 2B. He should play 3B, 1B, and DH.

        CIN will not win a division or a playoff birth if they are not among the league leaders in speed and defense categories and limiting their walks for pitchers.

      • greenmtred

        I believe that what is probably being considered is playing him at second when Mclain needs a rest, is playing shortstop or, as now, is injured. Who would you have play there instead? Mclain is a good fielder at second. Neither India nor Steer is. Candelario may be better. We don’t know.

      • Jonathan

        Mookie Betts says “HI”. I started playing SS and 2nd in 2023 and did really well in my age 30 season. so It is possible Candelario could be decent at 2nd. Not saying it should happen…but it may not be a bad idea.

    • 2020ball

      Sounds like more hot air with no proof, typical LDS. Feel free to post where you read these quotes that you seem to be exclusively privvy to.

      • LDS

        @2020, it’s not up to me to keep you up to date, not that it would matter. You’d simply pick another angle with which to disagree.

      • greenmtred

        Interesting that LDS would complain about Candelario possibly playing a bit of second in a thread about Mclain being injured, an event that certainly illustrates why having multi-position players is valuable. As for defense, India is the other likely option for 2nd, and he’s no wizard with the glove. Candelario is reportedly a competent fielder and, being an experienced professional infielder, I can’t imagine that learning to play 2nd base would be particularly difficult for him. Nor that it would damage his psyche.

      • 2020ball

        Oh so it’s our job to fact check you? Or to just know what random and likely misinterpreted quote you read 3 months ago? haha, yeah okay…..

        I truly don’t give rats behind if he plays 2B someti es. Maybe that will help them give Marte a more primary position.

      • Mauired

        Not hot air. If you saw anything about the Reds biggest signing of the off-season pandemicball, the manager mentioned putting Candelario at 2nd, a position he has never played.

      • LDS

        @2020, fact check? As the old saying goes, you wouldn’t know a fact if it bit you in the …. Keep trolling, maybe TikTok will discover your wit & wisdom.

      • 2020ball

        I actually have work and activities during the winter so one small quote from a manager i dont care to listen to anyway mustve slipped by me, oh the travesty. Still doubtful it happens much if at all.

    • ChrisInVenice

      Just stop. Today Bell said Candelario will play 1B/3b & DH.

      • LDS

        Bell changed his tune today. Maybe Krall whacked him on the back of the head. We’ll see.

      • Oldtimer

        He also said maybe some at 2B. I listened to the interview.

  2. SultanofSwaff

    Still want to trade India?!?

    • Mauired

      I still want India in the lineup if possible but not at second even if McLain is out for awhile. Opening day is still over a month away but these “minor” injuries sometimes linger. India is just not a good second baseman. Would rather they shift Steer over there to cover it and India can play left.

      • JayTheRed

        At least Steer has played LF. I don’t want India in the outfield. Maybe 1st base, 2nd base, or DH. he has zero experience out there.

      • Oldtimer

        He played 3B in college and all through his years in Reds MiLB system. He first played 2B in ST 2021. He can certainly play LF if healthy.

    • Frankie Tomatoes

      Yes. It’s tough to envision where he is more valuable as a back up to the Reds than he is as a trade asset to the Reds.

    • Daniel Kals

      There now exists a scenario in which McLain and Marte are not healthy enough to start the season. If you combine that with the fact that EDLC could, without much of a stretch of the imagination, play like he did in the last months of 2023 and needs more seasoning… you are suddenly looking at something like 1B-CES, 2B-India/Steer, 3B-Candelario/Steer, SS-EDLC/Candelario to start the season. And people were down on both the Candelario signing and the not trading of India…

    • Redsvol

      That extra depth that noon understood Nick Krall wanting seems to be proving itself on February 20th doesn’t it?

      We are going to need each and every 40 man player to contribute in order to have a good 2024. Good teams understand this.

  3. Klugo

    Injuries, especially chronic ones, are not always just a result of bad luck. Just sayin.

    • Dan

      Okay… I’m not sure I get what point you’re making w/ that…

    • Redwave

      I wonder if Blake Dunn had any type of physical therapy or conditioning on his elbow during the off season.

  4. Melvin

    Hope he recovers quickly but this is an example of why I don’t like to sign players to an extension until they’ve proven they can stay off the IL on a consistent basis over a years time at least. McLain is my favorite player too. Having the whole winter off and this popping up again is not a good sign.

  5. Frankie Tomatoes

    This is not great news but it sounds like the Reds are not concerned with it. The MRI came back clean and that seems to be important here.

  6. Mark Moore

    Well K.R.A.P!!!!

    Hope it’s just a minor tweak as noted. Obliques can be tricky for some players (especially pitchers).

  7. Michael B. Green

    Hopefully McLain is fine after a week or so. If not, the physical therapy team needs looked at. Workouts and conditioning should get geared to keep players ON the field. McLain is text book ballplayer. He doesn’t need to get 15 times bigger or stronger. He needs flexibility and to maintain his attributes.

    I would imagine and assume that all of these stories are just the “new” information message giving us way too much information (like data – too much is not a good thing). I’m guessing George Brett was sore after Week 1 of Spring Training in 1981 too, we just didn’t know about it.

    Here’s hoping that all of our players are healthy all season long.

  8. MBS

    We have too many infielders. What are we going to do?

  9. Old Big Ed

    Having spent a ton of time in Arizona, I wrote this same general thing last year, and probably the year before:

    The Arizona desert is still a desert, even if it’s a nice, comfortable 75 degrees. You can be outside exercising, and be very comfortable, but what is happening is that the sweat evaporates as soon as it comes out, and an athlete is dehydrated before he even knows it. The trainers and staff will always get after the athletes to drink, drink, drink — not like they did in Ball Four, but electrolytes. And every year, players fail to understand why it is so important and don’t drink enough. Drinking water can’t be emphasized enough out there.

    Every spring, there is a report of a player getting a muscle strain out of the blue. Plenty of studies show that dehydration enhances the risk of muscle strains and tears, and even bone fractures and other problems.

    Given the reports that I’ve read on McLain, it seems that there was no acute event and that he later turned up sore after taking an unusual number of swings. (Bingo.) He likely has some generalized soreness that should heal fairly promptly. Lodolo had a unique injury involving both a stress fracture and tendinosis, both of which could have some relation to dehydration. Maybe it had nothing to do with dehydration, but maybe it did.

    An ounce of prevention is worth many tons of cure, especially in the desert. Drink fluids in Arizona, even if you’re just watching a game.

    • Optimist

      Very true OBE, but the Lodolo injury is much more concerning. Sure, the McLain issue could be chronic/debilitating/annoying/etc., and hydration is so basically important for these guys at the edge of peak conditioning, but the Lodolo/India/McLain issues are different in kind, rather than degree.

      And now the reports about Dunn – hoping that’s nothing and he gets right back on schedule – he needs to go right from the Bats opener. Still expect 2 of 3, if not all 3, or Hurtubise/Hinds/Dunn to debut later this season.

    • TR

      The Reds spring training should still be in Florida. They spent 45 years in Tampa where the Bucs football stadium is now. The Yankees spring training site is across the street.

      • Mauired

        The Yankees spring training (and minor league) stadium is much nicer than the Rays MLB stadium.

  10. RedsGettingBetter

    Well, McLain had the oblique injury about 6 months ago being apparently health when he arrived to Arizona, but just starting the spring training get injured the oblique again even though he has no played a single game yet… It’s very concerning…

  11. Chris Holbert

    History tells us that DB’s 5-7 days become an IL stint after two weeks. I realize they will not use the IL but Bell’s time missed estimations are have always been off.

    • Mauired

      Yeah I believe when McClain first has the oblique problem last year it was day to day and then he ended up missing the last 5 weeks of the season (which cost the Reds the playoffs). Now six months later another “minor day to day” oblique injury. I hope it is nothing but no surprise if he ends up week to week.

  12. Brian Rutherford

    In a season with so much promise, are we going to bicker with each other all season? Can’t we just enjoy it? It is possible to scroll past comments you don’t like or agree with.

    • Mark Moore

      Amen and +5,000

      We roll with whatever comes out of ST.

    • TR

      Scrolling is good; trolling not so much. Spring training is here with it’s ups and downs. Meaningful baseball is not far off.

  13. MK

    If it hasn’t healed in 6-months since August why is it going to heal in 5 to 7 days. Makes re-signing India much smarter. Maybe Management knew he hadn’t healed and that’s why there was no interest in trading Jonathon.

    • greenmtred

      Or perhaps he simply re-injured it.

      • MK

        Even if that is true it didn’t heal in 5 to 7 days last time. And maybe it speaks to why Josh Harrison was brought in.

  14. Kurt Frost

    This is why India should not be traded. Dude get hurts walking into spring training.

  15. Kevin Patrick

    I suspect we might get a chance to see Barrero play a bit more this spring. Perhaps a few more spring reps will get him sharp for the start of the year. I know McLain can hit if healthy. The Barrero Bandwagon departs here! All Aboard!!!

  16. Optimist

    The comments are getting into ST form, so I’ll pump the brakes a bit here – just wander through some of the other teams followers websites and check the comments. It makes these reports seem negligible. For serious issues go look at the O’s list of injuries – pitchers looking at TJ, and month delays, hitters looking at more time off than McLain.

    It’s the way it is, and unless the Reds are seriously under-reporting (see skepticism about that in this thread), then let’s go with the 24-hour rule and suspend judgment for a short while.

  17. VaRedsFan

    Shouldn’t the guy that missed the last 5 weeks of last year with an oblique injury, receive extra attention during the training, stretching, and flexibility portion of Spring Training? Was there at least an investigation with the training staff on why it happened. Was there an off season regimen for MMC provided by the team. No answers from the training staff, manager, GM, or the Reds. The answer we are stuck with is “It’s just baseball”

    Doc brought a great point a few articles ago, same thing applies to Mclain….so I’ll copy it here….

    “How does Jonathon India have a setback during the off season? Are these guys on their own? Don’t they spend a little of their largesse to hire top notch trainers, therapists, etc. are said trainers on the same page as Reds staff?
    I’m not trying to be critical. Rather, I’m asking questions to which I don’t know the answers but would find interesting to know.”

    I wrote in response…

    These are good questions.

    Arm or knee injuries are one thing, but the soft tissue injuries, such as hamstrings, groins, and obliques always bugged me, because a lot of times it’s just comes from maybe not taking pregame stretching and flexibility regimens as serious as they should. That falls on the training staff to be firm and to insure they take every step possible to make sure the players are following every step….not just going though the motions.

    While at the game, you can see guys doing pregame workouts/stretching. Some are “working” harder at it than others.

    Maybe everything was followed to a T. But we don’t know.

    • Ksdavis

      It disturbed me to read that McClain said he may have over did it on the first days of practice. Where the heck is the training and coaching staff in this situation? You would think that the advice would be to very gradually build up . Have plenty of time to get ready. Now he will probably not be in game play until early March. Just stupid stupid stupid on the part of the staff.

  18. Jason Franklin

    I wonder if he will need to change his swing to avoid tweaking his oblique?

  19. Tom Reeves

    The Reds had a chance to partner with a PT firm that could have help prevent things like this. This firm works with one of the current Super Bowl teams and many other top name athletes. Bob C wanted to bring them him. But the training staff objected because it’s non-traditional PT. I hope Bob C flips out and forces this change – it’s ridiculous.

  20. VaRedsFan

    In other news…..

    Elly was taking batting practice off of Hunter Greene.
    Elly fouled a ball off and it landed on the rear driver’s side of Greene’s high-priced SUV, leaving the window shattered.

    “You’re paying for it” Greene said. EDLC’s answer? “You make more than me.”

  21. greenmtred

    It’s likely that McLain and the other players follow off-season conditioning programs and it’s likely that those are prescribed. Short of keeping players in restraints in climate-controlled bubbles, you can’t eliminate the risk of injury. People get hernias from sneezing. They throw their backs out by bending over to pick up a sock. And don’t even think about the risks associated with actually playing professional level baseball. Maybe the Reds need a different conditioning program. I don’t know. But all teams experience injuries to players.

  22. Steve

    It is February, spring training games haven’t even started and yet 80% of the comments make it seem like the sky is fallin…it is going to be a long season in the comment section!!

    • greenmtred

      It never ends, but it does find a different gear once they start playing.

  23. George M

    Do the Reds have an analytics dept.? McLain states he was too aggressive and took too many swings in batting practice . Where was the training staff? With all the information available on how to control soft tissue injuries all players should be on a regimented routine that maximizes their workouts without exposing them to straining muscles and ligaments.

    • Ksdavis

      This was my comment in a prior response. There should have been no reason in the world why he overdid it. That is a fault of the training and the coaching staff.

      • George M

        Exactly KS. I knew both Football and Hockey use analytics to maximize a players workouts and practices without over stressing them and having proper recovery.

    • greenmtred

      Our goal then is to keep them from being injured in spring training? That doesn’t address the conflagration that is the regular season. You strengthen muscles and increase flexibility by increasing workload, pushing it a bit. Maybe train them not to swing too hard, throw too hard, run too fast? Isn’t it possible that McLain–an adult who has been playing baseball for a good part of his life–simply made a mistake?

      • DaveCT

        There is no way on Earth that the coaching staff is responsible to dictate how many swings a player takes in the cage, on his own, or in BP. Little league doesn’t do this, let alone a professional, Major League Baseball team.

        And … why would anyone presume a team doesn’t have an analytics department? It’s 2024. And analytics do not deal with physical training. Further, why would anyone presume the club does not have individualized training regimens? Assumptions, like opinions … everybody have one.

    • MK

      The old story was #14 used to swing in ST until his hands cracked and bled. Suppose anyone ever told him he was swinging too much?

  24. Mauired

    Reds spring training opening day starter listed as…Carson Spiers. Head scratcher. Not the actual 7 or 8 guys fighting for a spot in the rotation, but a sure thing minor league pitcher.

    • greenmtred

      And this is normal procedure for MLB teams: early spring training gives them a chance to see guys they otherwise see little of and gives presumptive regulars a chance to work on stuff. The games themselves are far from being the only way for the staff to monitor the players.

  25. Rednat

    Are the greatest, most durable athletes in this country playing baseball anymore? The answer is no.
    Im not sure what the reds front office can really do about this.

    I think of the great Dave Parker who played the first 16 years of his career on the dreaded astro turf, rarely missing a game. If he were a high school student today he would be encouraged to play football or basketball. These type of guys just arent playing baseball anymore.

    • greenmtred

      It’s an interesting question, RedNat. Consider, though: Dave Parker was an outlier in his era. So were Cal Ripken and Willie Mays and Henry Aaron. We naturally remember the outliers from decades ago and not the guys who weren’t, or the guys who got injured and saw their careers end as a result. Sandy Koufax had his career shortened by chronic injury, and Mickey Mantle–like Johnny Bench–great though he was, probably would have been even greater if not for injury. I also wonder if this isn’t somewhat a function of better understanding of the care and treatment of injuries.

  26. Jeremiah

    Man bad news to start Spring Training. That’s pretty concerning for Mcclain’s future and again makes you wonder about the Reds training/health staff. Maybe it’s just a fluke, but that’d really stink if Mcclain has to deal with this injury for the whole year.