Price mixes up lineup amid Reds' hitting woes

Price mixes up lineup amid Reds' hitting woes

BALTIMORE -- Reds manager Bryan Price wasn't kidding when he said he would give chances to different players following his team's poor offensive performance in a 6-0 loss on Wednesday. It proved to be a lot of different players on Thursday.

Price's lineup vs. the Orioles featured only two regular players in third baseman Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco, who was the designated hitter instead of playing catcher. Frazier and catcher Tucker Barnhart were the only players on the Opening Day roster in the lineup (Mesoraco began 2014 on the disabled list).

"It's unfortunate that we're in a place that I'm comfortable doing something like this for a game," Price said. "But there are a lot of teams in the same position we are and are having to take a look at the players that may be able to help in 2015. It's the environment we're in. It's not a punishment to our players that are out there [in the clubhouse].

"I have no issues whatsoever on the effort our players have provided this organization -- zero complaints about the effort these guys bring to the field every day. We just haven't had the performance that we hoped for. It's opened the door for some other guys to play in September."

Several September callups started, including center fielder Jason Bourgeois, shortstop Jake Elmore and right fielder Yorman Rodriguez, a 22-year-old from Double-A Pensacola that got to make his Major League debut.

"As you'll see over the remainder of the month, it's not like this is what our lineup is going to be like the rest of September," Price said. "It is for today. If we were playing Milwaukee, St. Louis or Pittsburgh, this would not be our lineup."

All three of the Reds' division rivals are competing for playoff berths. Price said he is a firm believer in fielding the regular lineup against teams with something at stake. However, the Orioles hold a comfortable lead in the American League East and had a 9 1/2-game advantage entering play.

In the second half of this season, the Reds rank 30th out of 30 teams in team batting average, runs, hits, slugging and on-base percentage. Price took some responsibility for his club's struggles as well.

"We have to put our best team on the field because we've struggled so much -- in a lot of different areas and certainly that criticism falls largely on my shoulders as well, this isn't me deflecting in the accountability for our second-half performance, because in large part it starts right here in my office," Price said. "But we haven't done some things that we felt we were going to be capable of doing, it's been a long enough run to think things are going to change dynamically over the course of the last 20 games.

"We have a group of players that we feel are going to be long-term fixtures here, and they need to continue to be playing regularly. Guys who have been strong bench players for us need to continue to get a chance to play. Nobody's going to be sitting around here and rotting away on the bench."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.