MILWAUKEE – Tejay Antone looked like he feared the worst with his right elbow when he walked off the American Family Field mound Tuesday.
Antone threw five pitches, four curveballs and one fastball. He winced after his last curveball and immediately waved for trainer Tomas Vera to meet him on the field. There wasn’t much of a discussion, Antone saying a few words with his glove over his mouth and then he handed the ball to manager David Bell.
He returned to Cincinnati on Wednesday, placed on the 10-day injured list, and was expected to meet with Reds medical director Dr. Timothy Kremchek on Wednesday night to determine the severity. The worst-case scenario would be Tommy John surgery, a procedure he already had done on his elbow in 2017.
Antone replayed the previous week in his head when he chatted with Bell in the clubhouse afterward. He recovered well from his outings until he didn’t.
“He had a back-to-back in Triple-A (last week), after that he knew he was ready,” Bell said. “He said he felt great. The last (rehab) outing he ended up pitching on Sunday, he felt great.
“I believe it was maybe the pitch before. He said he felt a little tightness when he was warming up. He didn’t think anything of it. Then felt a little something on the pitch before, but he was in compete mode. And then the next pitch is when he felt it.”
The Reds called up infielder Max Schrock from Triple-A Louisville to replace Antone’s spot on the roster. Schrock, a left-handed hitter, had a .289 batting average and .347 on-base percentage in 13 games at Louisville this month. He was demoted in early August when Nick Castellanos returned from his wrist injury.
It’s the first time the Reds havcarried a five-man bench this month, giving manager David Bell more flexibility in late-game situations.
“We’ve had nine relievers for some time now with good reason,” said Bell, referencing a 20-game stretch in 20 days this month. “It’s really served us. There has definitely been a reason for it. We’re in good shape coming out of an off day. We have a stretch of nine games now until our next (off day). It doesn’t mean we can’t adjust that and go to a different plan. With the importance on each day right now, this was the decision for the time being.”
The Reds hoped Antone could provide a boost to their bullpen for the final five weeks to the season, a guy who excelled in a variety of roles for the first two months of the year. He likely would’ve had a major role in their revamped bullpen.
From the Reds’ eight-man bullpen a month ago, on July 24, the Reds no longer have six of those relievers on their active roster: Brad Brach (10-day injured list), Sean Doolittle (designated for assignment), Edgar García (DFA), Heath Hembree (DFA), Ryan Hendrix (optioned to Louisville) and Josh Osich (DFA).
The lone holdovers are Jeff Hoffman and Tony Santillan. Amir Garrett was a special exception because he was on the paternity list on July 24.
Hours after the excitement the Reds felt of adding Antone back to their roster, they will likely be without Antone for the rest of the season.
“(Antone) loves to compete,” Bell said. “He works hard. Of course, he wants to have personal success, but he worked so hard because he wanted to help our team win and be a part of this. When you get that taken away from you, it’s like a big loss. It’s an empty feeling.
“We’ve all been through enough in this game where you can see the bigger picture. I didn’t think last night was necessarily the time to talk about it: Knowing that it’s happened for a reason, knowing there’s another side to this and he’s going to get through it. Tejay is as strong, physically strong, but also as strong as a person of anyone that I’ve been around in this game. I’m definitely confident. He’ll have all kinds of support, everything he needs to get through this.”