Jesse Winker could join lineup vs. Dodgers

PITTSBURGH – A struggling Cincinnati Reds offense may receive a major boost in their lineup this week.

Jesse Winker, sidelined for the past month with an intercostal strain, began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday. He started hitting on the field last weekend, the last step as he ramped up toward games.

If Winker reacts well to playing in rehab games, it’s possible he could rejoin the Reds as early as their weekend series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Great American Ball Park.

“The bottom line at this point, Wink knows best,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He’s going to take it one day at a time. With where we are in the season being very important, everyone knows that, but also his health and coming back ready is very important. We’ll speak with him after the game and see where he is.”

Cincinnati Reds right fielder Jesse Winker (33) hits a base hit in the first inning of the MLB baseball game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

The Reds have been without Winker in the lineup since Aug. 16. They’ve been in a major offensive rut without him with a .227 batting average, .296 on-base percentage and .409 slugging percentage. It’s well below their season .248/.328/.429 slash line, scoring four or fewer runs in 16 of their last 25 games.

Winker was batting .327 with 15 doubles, five homers and 21 RBI in 27 games after the All-Star break before his injury. He had more walks (17) than strikeouts (13).

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