Ryan Freel knew he missed some chances to impress his team while he was sitting out with a hamstring injury. So in his first game back, he wasted no time letting the Cincinnati Reds know he wants to play next season.
The 24-year-old rookie looks to build off a career night as his Reds resume their four-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.
On Tuesday, Freel had a career-high four hits, including a homer and three RBIs, as the Reds beat the Pirates 12-4.
“A lot of guys here are battling for next year,” said Freel, who had missed 12 games with a strained right hamstring. “Nothing’s going to be given to me, and I have to go out there and still open up some eyes.”
Freel, who was recalled from Triple-A Louisville on Aug. 20 for his fourth stint with Cincinnati, had batted .278 (10-for-36) while starting 10 straight games before straining the hamstring on Sept. 2.
“It was miserable being out,” he said. “I was finally getting a chance, and then just knowing I could be out there playing but having to sit and watch these guys was very frustrating.”
Freel has been impressive in his latest stint with the Reds. On Aug. 20, he became just the fifth player to hit his first career homer off Arizona left-hander Randy Johnson.
His second homer came two days later against Houston closer Billy Wagner.
“That’s what he’s capable of doing, and it’s what he was doing before he got hurt,” manager Dave Miley said Tuesday. “It was like he didn’t miss a beat. He and (D’Angelo) Jimenez did a heck of a job.”
STANDINGS: Reds - 5th place, 17 1/2 GB, NL Central. Pirates - 4th place, 13 GB, NL Central.
REDS PROBABLE STARTER: Seth Etherton (2-3, 6.52 ERA). Etherton gave up four earned runs and seven hits in just two innings of the Reds’ 7-6 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Friday, but escaped without a decision. The right-hander, who is making his seventh start of the season, has never faced the Pirates.
PIRATES PROBABLE STARTER: Jeff D’Amico (8-15, 4.64 ERA). D’Amico gave up three earned runs and six hits in six innings of Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Reds—his third straight defeat and seventh in nine decisions. The right-hander is 1-2 with a 3.32 ERA in eight career appearances, including seven starts, against the Reds.
SEASON SERIES: Pirates, 9-5.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Reds - The Reds have used a different lineup in each of their last 27 games. … C Corky Miller, who was recalled from Triple-A Louisville on Sept. 8, has hit safely in four of his last five games, batting .385 (5-for-13) over that span. … The Reds lead the majors with 1,232 strikeouts, and are closing in on the Milwaukee Brewers’ 2001 record of 1,399. Pirates - INF Mackowiak started at third base in place of INF Jose Hernandez for the seventh time in 10 games. … OF Tike Redman has hit safely in eight straight starts. … RHP D’Amico is 4-7 with a 4.78 ERA in 14 starts at home this season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Reds - 32-44 on the road; Pirates - 35-40 at home.
INJURIES: Reds - INF Barry Larkin (finger), 15-day DL; OF Dunn (thumb), 15-day DL; RHP Jose Acevedo (ankle), 15-day DL; RHP Ryan Dempster (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Jimmy Haynes (back), 60-day DL; RHP Luke Prokopec (shoulder), 60-day DL; LHP Mark Watson (kidney), 60-day DL; INF Brandon Larson (shoulder), 60-day DL; OF Ken Griffey Jr. (ankle), 60-day DL; OF Austin Kearns (shoulder), 60-day DL; OF Reggie Taylor (shoulder), 60-day DL. Pirates - INF Pat Meares (hand), 60-day DL; INF Pokey Reese (thumb), 60-day DL; RHP Kris Benson (shoulder), 60-day DL; LHP Dave Williams (shoulder), 60-day DL.