Jake Fraley's season has not gone to plan, but the Reds OF is confident about his future

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After an injury-riddled first three months of the season, outfielder Jake Fraley turned to a popular quote to describe his mindset.

“The past is history and the future is a mystery, so today is a gift,” Fraley said. “That’s all that matters.”

Fraley, one of the four players the Cincinnati Reds received from Seattle in the Jesse Winker/Eugenio Suárez trade, has been limited to 15 games in his first season with his new team. A knee injury sidelined him for three weeks and then a broken bone in his toe sidelined him for another month.

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Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jake Fraley (27) sits in the dugout in the seventh inning during a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Friday, June 17, 2022, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jake Fraley (27) sits in the dugout in the seventh inning during a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Friday, June 17, 2022, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

In the past week, Fraley’s moved closer to beginning a rehab assignment. He’s “checked off a ton of boxes” with his running. He’s taking swings and he’s throwing. As disappointing as his injuries have been this year, things are finally moving in the right direction.

“Everything has been ramping up a lot quicker than we thought,” Fraley said. “Everything has been feeling really good. Everything is going pretty on schedule, if not ahead of schedule.”

The Reds acquired the 27-year-old Fraley because he’s a solid hitter against right-handed pitching and he plays above-average defense. Injuries, however, have robbed him from the chance of showing either of those traits.

Cincinnati Reds center fielder Jake Fraley (27) makes an out during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Thursday, April 28, 2022, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Reds center fielder Jake Fraley (27) makes an out during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Thursday, April 28, 2022, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

He injured his knee when he tried to rob a homer in a one-run game at Dodger Stadium on April 14. Fraley fell with his knees bent at a 90-degree angle and his butt hit the ground.

“I didn’t feel anything in the moment, a little bit uncomfortable, but you kind of have that any time you have a play like that at the wall,” Fraley said. “Later that night, I put my feet up on the bus to let my knee rest out and I had a sharp pain.”

Fraley tried to play through the knee pain with the help of a cortisone shot, but his knee didn’t improve and it was affecting him on the field.

After sitting for a few weeks, Fraley played four games on a rehab assignment. He was set to return for the Reds’ series in Boston at the start of June, but he broke a bone in his left big toe in his second-to-last rehab game.

“I hit a single up the middle, hit first base and felt a sharp pain,” Fraley said. “I knew what it was right away because I actually fractured that same bone in 2018, same exact way hitting first base. I kind of ignored it because I didn’t want it to be what I thought it was, so I finished the rest of the game in some pain. Then the next morning, it was swollen. It ended up being the same bone I fractured in ’18.”

Apr 26, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Reds designated hitter Jake Fraley (27) runs to third against the San Diego Padres in the third inning at Great American Ball Park.
Apr 26, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Reds designated hitter Jake Fraley (27) runs to third against the San Diego Padres in the third inning at Great American Ball Park.

Fraley went from rejoining the Major League team in a matter of days to three weeks in a walking boot.

That’s why, as Fraley recovers from his toe injury, he’s not looking ahead. He’s not sure about the timeline to begin a rehab assignment. He just wants to make the most of the day in front of him.

“It’s been tough,” Fraley said. “It’s part of the game, right? I’m grateful that I’m still young. I’ve still got a lot of baseball in front of me, so that’s a blessing. No different than life, right? As soon as you have something end, something else is around the corner. That’s just the way it goes.”

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Graham Ashcraft (51), left, and Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Nick Lodolo (40) watch from the dugout during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Friday, July 1, 2022, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The Atlanta Braves won, 9-1.
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Graham Ashcraft (51), left, and Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Nick Lodolo (40) watch from the dugout during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Friday, July 1, 2022, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The Atlanta Braves won, 9-1.

Nick Lodolo returns to Cincinnati Reds rotation

LODOLO RETURNS: Nick Lodolo, preparing for his first MLB start since he strained his side on April 24, didn’t expect to miss more than one start when the injury initially occurred.

“It was just frustrating because I never thought it was going to take that long. I thought it’d be, like, one or two weeks. Hey, it’s over with. It is what it is. Now, I’m just happy I’m healthy and able to pitch.”

Lodolo made four rehab starts and pitched well. In three starts with Triple-A Louisville, he permitted three runs in 10 2/3 innings while striking out 16.

“I treated it like almost a spring training outing,” Lodolo said. “That’s almost what it felt like because I had to completely rebuild back up. The big there was getting my pitch count, get everything going again with my direction to the plate. Overall, throughout them all, I was pretty happy with how I threw the ball and how quickly I was at least to keep that feeling going. I felt like I was trending that way and getting better each start.”

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Art Warren (77) collects himself between pitches in the eighth inning of the MLB National League game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Great American Ball Park in downtown Cincinnati on Thursday, June 23, 2022. The Reds were swept in a second consecutive series with a 10-5 loss to the Dodgers.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Art Warren (77) collects himself between pitches in the eighth inning of the MLB National League game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Great American Ball Park in downtown Cincinnati on Thursday, June 23, 2022. The Reds were swept in a second consecutive series with a 10-5 loss to the Dodgers.

Art Warren added to Reds injured list

ANOTHER RELIEVER DOWN: The Reds placed reliever Art Warren on the 15-day injured list Monday with a right flexor pronator strain. Subsequent medical exams checked out clean, so the Reds hope Warren will return later this month.

It’s been a rough season for Warren, who has allowed 26 hits and 22 runs in 28 2/3 innings (6.91 ERA) across 31 relief appearances. Right-handed batters have a high .922 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) against him this year.

Losing Warren to the IL is another hit for the dreadful Reds bullpen. Despite his struggles, he was still being used in some high-leverage situations. He’s totaled three saves.

Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson (37) scores after Cincinnati Reds center fielder Albert Almora Jr. (3) hit a single in the seventh inning of a baseball game, Monday, June 6, 2022, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson (37) scores after Cincinnati Reds center fielder Albert Almora Jr. (3) hit a single in the seventh inning of a baseball game, Monday, June 6, 2022, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

Tyler Naquin, Tyler Stephenson nearing return to Reds lineup

REHAB UPDATES: It’s possible the Reds could add Tyler Stephenson back this week from his rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville, manager David Bell said.

Tyler Naquin was back in the Reds lineup Tuesday after four games on his rehab assignment with four hits in 13 at-bats, including a double, a triple and a homer. Naquin played seven innings Sunday and nine innings Monday.

Stephenson played in his first rehab game Monday, removed after five innings. He will ramp up toward nine-inning stints after Louisville’s off day Tuesday.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati Reds roster to get key players back from injured list