Thursday, July 18, 2024

TJ Friedl injury: Reds breakout center fielder to miss start of 2024 MLB season with fractured wrist

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Cincinnati Reds center fielder TJ Friedl will miss the beginning of the regular season after suffering a non-displaced fracture in his right wrist, according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. Friedl, who suffered the injury on a diving grab on Saturday, will be reexamined in three to four weeks. It stands to reason that he’ll require additional time on top of that to get back into game shape before rejoining the big-league lineup. 

Friedl, 28, enjoyed a breakout season last year. He hit .279/.352/.467 (118 OPS+) with 18 home runs and 27 stolen bases over 138 games. Those contributions were estimated to be worth 3.8 Wins Above Replacement, per the calculations at Baseball Reference. In turn, Friedl earned down ballot consideration for the National League Most Valuable Player Award, tying him for 23rd with Nick Castellanos, Zac Gallen, and Christian Walker

It’s yet to be seen who the Reds turn to in center field during Friedl’s absence. The top internal candidate would seem to be Stuart Fairchild, who received 17 starts there in 2023. Fairchild is without options and was slated to be part of their bench unit anyway, having posted a 90 OPS+ last season at the big-league level in 255 trips to the plate. The Reds do have a few other options on their 40-player roster they could use to backfill Fairchild’s spot on the bench, including Jacob Hurtubise, Nick Martini and Bubba Thompson.

Friedl is the second Reds starter to be scratched from their early season plans. Projected third baseman Noelvi Marte, one of the top prospects in the sport, was recently suspended for 80 games after failing a test for performance-enhancing drugs.

The Reds are slated to begin their season on March 28 against the Washington Nationals.

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