Jul 19, 2010, 7:00 PM EDT
A bounce-back first half for one of baseball’s surprise teams led to a much-deserved All-Star appearance, and all again seemed right in Scott Rolen’s world. He appeared well on his way to his best season since 2004, and it was suddenly worth thinking about his Hall of Fame merits again.
And then July hit. Rolen missed two of the final three games before the All-Star break with back soreness. After playing in the Reds’ first game back, he missed the next two with an illness of some sort. Now the team is also admitting that he’s dealing with a right hamstring injury that required a cortisone shot. He’ll miss his third straight game tonight, and he told the Cincinnati Enquirer that he’s not sure how long he’ll be out.
It could be a sign of things to come for Rolen. He played in 77 of the Reds’ first 87 games, putting him on pace to reach 140 games for the first time since 2006. That was also the last time he went a year without spending time on the DL. In the three full years since, he’s appeared in 112, 115 and 128 games. 2003 was the last season in which Rolen played in 150 games.
Rolen, though, is 35, and he didn’t figure to suddenly become more durable with age. And the Reds are going to be in serious trouble if he can’t stay relatively healthy from here on in. The team is 48-32 in the 80 games in which Rolen has played this year and 3-10 when he’s been absent. Their backup third baseman is Miguel Cairo, and while they do have Juan Francisco on the farm, the 23-year-old’s shaky defense and all-or-nothing approach at the plate would likely make him a similarly huge downgrade.
That’s why a legitimate backup third baseman should be near the top of GM Walt Jocketty’s shopping list with the trade deadline approaching. Jhonny Peralta would likely come cheap, as the Indians appear to have no interest in retaining him for 2011. The Reds haven’t been mentioned as one of the teams targeting Ty Wigginton, but maybe he’d be an option if the Orioles lowered their asking price. I don’t think either Mike Lowell or Pedro Feliz is worth pursuing, but a more versatile player like Craig Counsell or Mike Fontenot could be.
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