Phillips returns to Cincinnati as Reds host Braves
CINCINNATI -- After a blistering start at the plate in April -- his first month as a member of the Atlanta Braves -- second baseman Brandon Phillips had a rough May while nursing minor injuries.
Perhaps a three-game weekend series against the Cincinnati Reds, his former club, will provide a spark.
Phillips hit .355 in April with two homers, five doubles, and 10 RBIs. In May, he batted .238.
Phillips missed two games with a right knee contusion but returned to go 0-for-4 on Wednesday in the series finale against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim. Phillips also had a groin injury in late April.
"Early in my career, I didn't get hurt at all," Phillips told MLB.com. "This is all new to me. I don't know if my body is starting to get older a little bit, but I'm still here and I haven't been on the DL. I'm going to try and play through it."
It will be difficult to keep Phillips out of the lineup Friday night when the Braves open a series at Great American Ball Park, where the four-time Gold Glove Award winner spent 11 seasons and helped the Reds capture a pair of National League Central titles.
Also on Friday, Atlanta plans to activate third baseman Adonis Garcia and left-handed reliever Eric O'Flaherty from the 10-day disabled list, according to Braves manager Brian Snitker. O'Flaherty has been out since May 20 with a lower back strain, while Garcia has been sidelined since May 16 due to Achilles tendinitis.
Phillips was traded to Atlanta on the eve of spring training in exchange for a pair of pitching prospects.
Right-hander Bronson Arroyo, Phillips' teammate in Cincinnati for eight seasons, will take the mound for the Reds on Friday. Arroyo, 40, has experienced plenty of ups and downs during his comeback after missing more than two seasons because of multiple surgeries.
Arroyo is set to make his 11th start of the season and his 276th start in a Reds uniform. He will be facing Atlanta for the 19th time, 18th as a starter. In those appearances, Arroyo is 7-4 with a 5.14 ERA.
Arroyo (3-4, 6.62 ERA) has pitched at least five innings in each of his past four starts but is 0-2 in those outings. He allowed three home runs in his last start, a 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.
"You can't continue to give up a run an inning and expect a big league ballclub to keep running you out there, time after time," Arroyo said. "We've got a lot of guys that are still hurt that are going to be back in about a month or so. That's going to be my window of opportunity to see if I can solidify myself as somebody who can definitely continue to be successful at a rate that's good enough."
The Braves will counter with right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (3-5, 4.44 ERA). He is 1-0 with a 3.09 ERA versus Cincinnati in two career starts. He did not face the Reds last season.
Cincinnati is 32-20 all-time against the Braves at Great American Ball Park. The Reds will play in Atlanta's newly opened SunTrust Park in August.
Both teams are scuffling coming into the series. Cincinnati (24-28) has lost four of five, while Atlanta (22-29) has dropped six of eight.
Updated June 2, 2017