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Rece Hinds gives the Reds some much-needed momentum with a home run in his major league debut

Rece Hinds gives the Reds some much-needed momentum with a home run in his major league debut
Rece Hinds gives the Reds some much-needed momentum with a home run in his major league debut

CINCINNATI — It’s 99 miles from Louisville Slugger Field, the Triple-A home of the Cincinnati Reds, to Great American Ball Park. Reds outfielder Rece Hinds, who was called up to make his major league debut Monday, said he was “a wreck” and “probably shed tears four times” driving those 99 miles Monday.

Hinds received a call Sunday from Bats manager Pat Kelly telling him he had been called up when Reds outfielder Stuart Fairchild was placed on the injured list. Hinds called his mother, who had booked a morning flight from her home in Sarasota, Florida, and Hinds’ first stop as he crossed the Ohio River into Cincinnati was her hotel before heading to the ballpark.

Hinds’ nerves eased as he entered the Reds’ locker room, as everywhere he looked he saw familiar faces. Hinds, a second-round pick out of a Florida high school in 2019, had played with many of the current Reds players at some point since his selection, from Elly De La Cruz to Monday’s starter Andrew Abbott.

“Everyone just welcomed me and acted like they were happy that I was here and stuff, it just touched my heart,” Hinds said. “It made me feel more comfortable and at home.”

With Fairchild joining fellow outfielders TJ Friedl and Nick Martini on the injured list, Jake Fraley on the family emergency list and newly signed outfielder Austin Slater not scheduled to join the team until Tuesday, Reds manager David Bell wasted no time in bringing Hinds into the lineup, batting eighth and playing right field.

After the Reds suffered a disappointing loss to the Detroit Tigers last weekend, Hinds’ two hits (a double and a home run) helped the team to a 6-0 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

“We certainly know what he’s capable of, and to step right into a big league game like this and contribute right away to a win – that’s a great start,” Bell said.

Hinds, who was drafted as an infielder but moved to the outfield before the 2021 season to preserve his body, was robbed of a hit in the third inning when Ezequiel Tovar pounced on a ball that Hinds had hit at 106.8 mph and flew straight into the ground.

Hinds got revenge on the Rockies in the fifth inning when he made a sliding catch to get a hit from Hunter Goodman for the second out of the inning, just after Abbott walked two batters and brought Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson to the mound. Abbott ended the inning with a strikeout and then pitched two more hitless innings to earn his ninth win of the season.

As the second batter in the bottom of the fifth inning, Hinds followed with his first big league hit, hitting a ball off Tovar’s glove into center field. Not content with his first big league hit being a single, Hinds didn’t stop running and slid headfirst into second base for a double.

“When I saw it from the glove, I thought I’d make two here,” Hinds said.

This busy double showed how well Hinds fits into this base-aggressive Reds team, as evidenced by De La Cruz stealing two bases to give him a major league-leading 45 total bases this season, and getting caught trying to steal home in the first inning.

With the Reds leading 2-0 in the eighth inning, Hinds started the inning with his first home run, blasting a Tyler Kinley slider 449 feet into the second deck in left-center field, starting a four-run eighth inning for the Reds.

“To be honest, I wasn’t even paying attention to where the ball was going,” Hinds said. “I looked at the dugout and I completely blacked out on the bases, so I can’t tell you what happened, what was going on.”

The same smiles he had seen earlier in the day were on display. His teammates headed to the tunnel between the dugout and the clubhouse to celebrate, as the team has done for the past few months as part of the team’s revamped home run celebrations.

“You saw it a lot today in our clubhouse and on our team bench. It was like a friend joining the team and there was a lot of excitement,” Bell said. “Everyone was excited that Rece was off to such a good start. There were a lot of smiles.”

Hinds’ home run was the second hardest hit ball of the inning (109.6 mph behind De La Cruz’s 113.1 mph double) and the second most exciting play after De La Cruz scored from third base on a comeback to the pitcher. But that’s apparently normal Elly stuff. Of course, 449 feet is nothing unusual for the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Hinds.

“This is nothing more than a regular home run for Rece,” Abbott said.

Slater is close to joining the team and changes need to be made to the roster, but Hinds has made a good case for staying for more than just a day.

(Photo of Hinds: Sam Greene / The Enquirer / USA Today)

Cincinnati Reds

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