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Stephenson injury woes may hamper late call to bigs

Former Alhambra Bulldog pitcher Robert Stephenson’s right wrist strain may have just ended any talk of a September call up to the big leagues for the 2015 season. (PATRICK PFISTER / Louisville Bats)
Former Alhambra Bulldog pitcher Robert Stephenson’s right wrist strain may have just ended any talk of a September call up to the big leagues for the 2015 season. (PATRICK PFISTER / Louisville Bats)
By GERARDO RECINOS
Martinez Tribune

After a promising start to his time in Triple A, a right wrist strain may have just hampered Alhambra alumnus Robert Stephenson’s chances at making his big league debut in September.

Stephenson was placed on the seven-day disabled list by the Louisville Bats on Aug. 16, but he hasn’t pitched since Aug. 12 when he was pulled early from his outing against the Columbus Clippers.

The former Bulldog was brilliant in his first six starts for the Bats, winning four games and posting a brilliant 2.25 ERA, but in his start against the Durham Bulls he allowed five earned runs in four innings.

In that outing he gave up five home runs and walked four. In his next start he was withdrawn after only two innings on the mound where he left having only given up one hit and one earned run. He did, however, walk four.

His injury was previously thought to have been serious enough for him to miss only a single start, with manager Delino DeShields telling the Louisville Courier Journal five days after his last outing he would “be back in the rotation next time around.”

What is likely happening is that Stephenson will be shut down for the rest of the season.

With only 10 games remaining on the minor league calendar, it seems doubtful the Reds would risk starting their number two prospect overall, and the best pitcher in their farm system.
The recent call up of relievers Collin Balester and Sam LeCure, and starter John Lamb, make it abundantly clear that when it comes to their 2011 first rounder the Cincinnati Reds are handling him as delicately as possible.

Still, the chance of Stephenson making it to the show in the next year seem all the more certain with the moves the Reds have made in terms of major league arms.

While Martinez’s dream of Stephenson making a start during the Reds’ series at AT&T Park Sept. 14-16 may have been dashed, it seems hard to believe that his eventual journey back to the Bay Area isn’t too far away.

I can only imagine he will have to set aside a lot of tickets for any trips by the Reds into California.

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