TJ Friedl arrived at the Cincinnati airport on Saturday morning, called up from Triple-A Louisville after Jesse Winker and Shogo Akiyama were placed on the injured list, and he saw his mom riding the escalator to baggage claim.
“It was pretty cool because we were walking to our baggage claim and TJ looks up and says, ‘hey, there’s my Mom,’” said reliever Art Warren, another callup Saturday. “‘No way, what are you talking about?’ ‘No seriously, that’s my Mom.’ That was cool for me to witness that, his mom being there for his callup. That was pretty sweet.”
It was a surprise for Friedl, who knew his mom was supposed to land around the same time, but he didn’t expect to see her at the airport. His mom was wearing his spring training jersey.
“(Warren) saw that jersey, he's like, 'dude, we have to surprise her,’” Friedl said. “So, I got a really good video of that one. I just randomly tapped her on the shoulder, and she turned around and she was shocked.”
Friedl, a 26-year-old left-handed hitter, made his Major League debut Saturday when he pinch-hit in the eighth inning against Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly. Friedl had an infield pop-out.
When he pinch-hit in the sixth inning Sunday, Friedl hit a solo homer for his first big-league hit. His good friend and former roommate Tyler Stephenson gave him a bear hug in the dugout.
Manager David Bell said Friedl will likely receive “some starts” with Winker, Akiyama and Tyler Naquin out. Max Schrock, a left-handed hitter, is already regular starter in left field against right-handed pitching, and Friedl is an option for center field along with Delino DeShields and Jose Barrero.
"It's a moment you dream of your whole life," said Friedl, who learned he was headed to the Majors on Friday night. "Everything just stood still in that moment and I was in complete and utter shock.
"A couple of teammates were waiting outside of Pat Kelly's office and came storming in as soon as he said that and then the rest of my teammates were sitting outside his office waiting to congratulate me. So, it was a very special moment with all of those guys."
Friedl had a .264 batting average and .357 on-base percentage at Triple-A Louisville this year with 15 doubles, 12 homers, 36 RBI and 59 runs in 113 games. He had 44 walks compared to 65 strikeouts and stole 13 bases in 20 attempts.
FRONT OFFICE MOVE: Reds scouting director Brad Meador was promoted to assistant general manager, sources told The Enquirer. He will work with the amateur scouting, international scouting and player development departments.
Meador completed his third MLB Draft as the scouting director in July. He’s in his 12th year in the Reds’ organization, beginning as an area supervisor in 2009 and he later spent two years as the organization’s Midwest crosschecker.
Before joining the Reds, Meador spent 10 years with the University of Cincinnati baseball program as an associate head coach.
The Reds will have a new amateur scouting director after Meador’s promotion.
ART OF PITCHING: Warren, activated from the 60-day injured list, struck out three of the four batters he faced in the eighth inning Saturday against the Dodgers.
“I was happy with the way I was able to breathe and stay calm,” Warren said. “I think the at-bat with Justin Turner stood out for me the most. I fell behind, 2-0, and I remember Tucker (Barnhart) and I talking afterward. Give Tucker a lot of credit. We just kind of kept going at Justin Turner – gave up a hit, which was fine – I think there was an opportunity there where things can unravel, especially after a couple of quick outs in an inning. I’m glad I kind of stayed on the gas there.”
Warren, a 28-year-old from Napoleon, Ohio, was a major part of the bullpen before he suffered an oblique injury right before the All-Star break. He’s allowed three runs and 10 hits in 15 1/3 innings this season (1.76 ERA), striking out 24.
He spent the majority of the last two months rehabbing his injury at the spring training complex in Goodyear, Arizona. He made six relief appearances on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville before he was activated from the IL.
LINEUP DECISIONS: Facing left-hander Clayton Kershaw on Sunday, Bell stacked the Reds’ lineup with right-handed hitters for the first seven spots in the batting order. He replaced Joey Votto at first base with Tyler Stephenson.
Votto is hitting .213 with a .308 on-base percentage in 156 plate appearances against lefties this year, which is lower than Stephenson’s splits versus lefties. He has a .290 batting average and .402 on-base percentage against righties.
“We know how good Kershaw is, so we have to do what we have to do to put our best foot forward,” Bell said. “Obviously, Joey is a part of that lineup always, for today, there was a couple of factors with Kershaw.”
Barrero made his first start in center field. He played only one inning in the outfield before Sunday’s series finale, but he’s worked with outfield coach Jeff Pickler at the position for the past month before batting practice.