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TJ Friedl’s injury update leads to historic Reds call-up for Army grad

The Cincinnati Reds aren’t making many storylines with the way they’re playing this season but the franchise was part of history on Monday. Unfortunately, it comes at the expense of Reds outfielder TJ Friedl who was placed on the injured list for the second time in 2024 on Monday.

Friedl returned on May 7 from a wrist fracture he suffered in spring training. His stint lasted six games after he was struck in the hand on the first pitch of Sunday’s game against the San Francisco Giants. The Reds sent Friedl to the injured list the next day with a left thumb fracture.

It’s another tough blow for Friedl and the Reds but Cincinnati’s corresponding roster move turned some heads.

The Reds promoted outfielder Jacob Hurtubise from Triple-A Louisville to replace Friedl on the active roster. The 26-year-old entered Monday’s game as a pinch runner, making him the second United States Military Academy graduate to play in a Major League Baseball game.

Hurtubise, who graduated from West Point in 2020, is the first Army grad to play in the MLB while delaying his military service requirements, according to the Associated Press. The policy, passed in 2019, allows talented athletes to delay their service commitments to pursue a professional sports career.

Several other West Point athletes were granted the same waiver, including Cole Christiansen, who was part of two Super Bowl-winning teams with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Hurtubise latest prospect in deep Reds farm system

Hurtubise was selected in the 39th round of the 2019 MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners but chose to stay at West Point to finish his degree. Despite losing much of his senior college season, the Reds decided to take a chance on him and Hurtubise signed his first professional contract in July 2020.

Injuries slowed his progress in 2022 after a promising first professional season in 2021. He opened his window into the MLB with a sensational 2023 season in the minors. Hurtubise finished with a .330 batting average and .961 OPS across 119 games in Double-A and Triple-A. He was named the Reds’ Minor League Position Player of the Year in January.

Hurtubise impressed in big league camp during spring training, posting a .294 average in 12 games. A shoulder sprain limited him to nine minor league games before his promotion on Monday.

Jacob Hurtubise has a chance to make a name for himself in baseball and show other professional teams that military grads can stick in the ranks. Only the Reds know how much playing time they’ll give Hurtubise, but his MLB debut is a great story in itself.

Reds’ dismal stretch continues

Cincinnati Reds second base Santiago Espinal (4) and Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz (44) slap hands with teammates after scoring runs against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the third inning at Chase Field.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

There were playoff expectations surrounding the Reds before the season after an exciting 2023 campaign saw them finish with a winning record for the third time since 2014. Cincinnati hasn’t followed those expectations yet as it continues to flounder.

Monday’s loss was the Reds’ 11th in their last 12 games, seeing them drop from two and a half games back of first place in the NL Central to seven games.

Cincinnati’s young core still brings excitement to the team but winning has to follow at some point. The Reds can trot out this team and continue conversations about a bright future, but fans will grow frustrated if a winning product isn’t on the field.

Every team is bound to go through a tough stretch in the grueling calendar of an MLB season. The Cincinnati faithful has been put through too many long and boring summers to count as of late with the Reds stuck in mediocrity.

There is hope these young guns can bring brighter summer months to the Queen City. The finished product might take longer than Reds fans hope.

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