CINCINNATI — After a strong first half, Napoleon High School graduate Art Warren said he is focusing on helping the Cincinnati Reds make it to the postseason. First, he will have to battle an arm injury that happened during his last outing before the All-Star break.
Warren left the Reds’ game against the Milwaukee Brewers after getting the first batter he faced out with what turned out to be a slight tear of his oblique muscle.
“They said it was a grade one tear, a small tear,” said Warren, who was placed on the 10-day injured list Friday, retroactive to Monday. Warren said the doctors told him he will be out four to six weeks with the injury.
“I am hoping to be back the second week of August,” said Warren. “That would give me six weeks to help the team.
“There is a lot of baseball left, and that is the mindset that I have to have,” added Warren. “It is what it is.”
The injury is a hiccup in what has been a stellar first half of the season for Warren, who was called up by the Reds on June 9 and has been a key part of their bullpen.
In 18 appearances, Warren has a 2-0 record with a 1.88 ERA for the Reds. He has 21 strikeouts in 14.1 innings pitched, with a 1.05 WHIP. Opponents are batting .180 against him.
Previous to this year, Warren appeared in nine games with the Seattle Mariners in 2019, collecting his first major league victory. He did not pitch last season, remaining with the Mariners’ Taxi Squad during the 2020 season that was shortened to 60 games due to COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, with a new organization (the Reds traded for Warren in January), has been different.
“Everything is different,” said Warren. “Yes, making my debut with Seattle was special, but being able to pitch for a team in my home state is amazing. And actually pitching and contributing for a contending team with a chance to make the playoffs in the big leagues, that is really amazing.”
Playing for the Reds, Warren has had family and friends comes to see him play. He expects there will be even more when the Reds travel to Pittsburgh in August.
“It’s nice to see the familiar faces,” said Warren. “I think I have done a really good job of staying focused with my pitching and appreciating the people that came out to see me.”
The 18 games he has pitched this season is twice as many as he has pitched in the majors previously, and the mental drain can be just as big as the physical toll.
“This is the most innings I have pitched in a while,” said Warren, who missed most of the 2018 season with an injury. “You get to a point where my arm feels good and my body feels good, but it takes me longer to get loose. That is fatigue setting in. It really is a grind getting through 162 games in 187 days.”
Warren said the Reds’ pitching staff, which is made up of several veteran players, has been helpful to him as a rookie.
“Brad Brach, Heather Hembree, Josh Osich and Sean Doolittle have all been in the league a number of years,” said Warren. “Brad (Brach) is my throwing partner and I give a lot of credit to him for literally making me better every day.
“It’s great to have those guys, who have all been in the league at least five years, to learn from,” added Warren.
Warren also said it has been amazing to play with Cincinnati’s two All-Stars — Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winkler.
The Napoleon native points to the Reds’ game in San Diego on June 17 as a turning point in his season.
“It was their re-opening night and they had 40,000 fans there,” said Warren. “I had to come in and pitch to the top of the order in the eighth inning.”
Warren struck out Tommy Pham and then got All-Star Fernando Tatis Jr. swinging for the second out before a lineout by Trent Grisham ended the inning.
“The fans were all chanting ‘M V P’ when Tatis came to bat,” said Warren. “That was a big inning for me. Nick Castellanos came up to me after the inning and said, ‘Striking out Tatis there, I would take notice of that.’
“I knew I was winning over my teammates,” added Warren. “It gave me confidence to know that I belong here.”
The Reds, as a team, are also gaining confidence. Cincinnati is 48-42 at the All-Star break — four games behind the Brewers for first pace in the NL Central and 3 1/2 games behind the San Diego Padres for the final Wild Card spot in the playoffs.
“We need to keep the clubhouse loose,” said Warren about a key to the Reds reaching the postseason. “We have a lot of veterans that do a good job of that. Tucker Barnhart (the Reds’ catcher) has really stepped up in that role.”
Warren said he needs to focus each day on the next, especially rehabbing his injury to start the second half of the season.
“The guys are excited to start the second half and I know I would be too,” said Warren. “I can’t wait to get back and contribute.”