MILWAUKEE -- An act of kindness by first baseman Joey Votto last week gave a dying man, and Reds fan, a final thrill.
Jeff Crews, who was from Centerville, Ohio, near Dayton, had terminal brain cancer and was invited by Votto to the Reds' July 2 game vs. the Giants. The entire family was given field passes to watch batting practice and meet Votto and some of the team. Votto chatted and gave Crews one of his bats.
"Jeff literally had to hold his chin up because it kept falling down in disbelief at what we were experiencing," the Crews' family blog said. "Dusty Baker came over for autographs and a picture, as well as Todd Frazier. Then the moment came when Joey walked over to meet us. … Joey Votto couldn't have been a nicer, more humble, and down to earth guy."
Crews and his family watched the game in seats behind the Reds dugout. It was the game when Homer Bailey threw his no-hitter. Crews and his wife happened to be in Pittsburgh for their anniversary and watched Bailey throw his first no-hitter vs. the Pirates last season.
On July 4, just two days after his time with Votto, Crews passed away.
"He was so lucid when I was talking with him that when I had heard he died two days after, it was a bit of a surprise to me," Votto said on Tuesday. "He was really fantastic to talk to, a very nice man and his family. It just seemed like a normal meeting. They were happy to come to the ballpark, happy to watch the game, happy to meet me, happy to watch batting practice. Homer threw a no-hitter. It was just a really nice day all the way around for any Reds fan.
"I think it meant a lot to the family. It meant something to him. I'm grateful and very humbled to have been a part of that."
Hot-hitting Heisey leaves game with elbow injury
MILWAUKEE -- Just when Reds left fielder Chris Heisey was heating up his productivity, an injury knocked him out of Tuesday's game vs. the Brewers.
Heisey was hit above his left elbow by a 2-2 pitch from Wily Peralta in the second inning. It was a 95 mph fastball that left a visible welt on Heisey's arm. He appeared to be in pain as he went out to left field for the bottom half of the inning before being pulled by head trainer Paul Lessard and manager Dusty Baker. Derrick Robinson replaced Heisey in left field.
X-rays on Heisey's elbow came back negative. Heisey was also hit by a pitch in the eighth inning of Monday's game.
"He's going to be sore from getting hit twice in the same arm," Baker said. "Anybody that's been hit on that elbow, that bone, the feeling didn't come back. That's why we took him out. It's a tough place to get hit. There is no muscle. I don't think he's playing tomorrow."
Since coming off of the disabled list after missing nearly two months with a strained right hamstring, Heisey was batting .368 (7-for-19) with two homers in nine games, including a solo homer on Monday vs. the Brewers in a 4-3 loss.
"Maybe that time off helped him," Baker said before the game. "He was struggling when he left -- mentally and physically. It starts mentally most of the time. You keep trying to figure things out."
Heisey, who was playing regularly when Ryan Ludwick went down with a shoulder injury on Opening Day, was batting .173 with two home runs and five RBIs in 23 games before going on the DL. Xavier Paul and Robinson played well in place of both Heisey and Ludwick, but have tailed off lately. Paul has been bothered by a sore right arm after hitting the wall trying to make a catch on Friday.
Baker wanted Heisey's pop in the lineup for a Reds team that's had trouble scoring lately.
"Everybody has had a chance to play out there," Baker said. "Actually, Heisey had the first chance. It's rare you get two chances to play this much. The other guys are struggling. They've been exposed a little bit playing every day."
Both Reds catchers dealing with injuries
MILWAUKEE -- The sore left wrist bothering Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan wasn't much better after he sat out on Monday, but he was in the starting lineup vs. the Brewers on Tuesday.
That's because the team's other catcher, Devin Mesoraco, was still dealing with back spasms.
"It's kind of the worst of the two," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of Mesoraco.
Mesoraco played the entire game in Monday's 4-3 loss to the Brewers, but looked to be in pain throughout the game.
"It definitely could be better," Mesoraco said on Tuesday. "It's better than it was when I first did it, but it's a touch worse than it was yesterday. Going into the game, I thought I was OK. It tightened up."
At one point in the eighth inning, Mesoraco visited reliever J.J. Hoover at the mound. The visit was as much for himself as the pitcher.
"He thought one pitch was possibly a strike and I needed some time too," Mesoraco said. "That last inning, it was really barking quite a bit. I went out there just to take a little break and calm him down just a touch."
There is a chance one of the two catchers could wind up on the disabled list.
"I don't know," Baker said. "We're just kind of waiting to see if one of them is better than the other in the next couple of days. It kind of puts us in a bad situation. There are no answers."
Mesoraco didn't think he would have to go on the DL.
"If they need me, I think I can play," Mesoraco said. "It's not an injury. It's something I need a couple of days to get over it and it will be OK. I can't go out there, really mess it up and be out for a while. It's something you have to deal with if it comes to it."
The Reds currently have no other catchers on their 40-man roster, but Corky Miller and Nevin Ashley are at Triple-A Louisville. A familiar name, Ramon Hernandez, was released on Tuesday by the Blue Jays Triple-A Buffalo affiliate.
Hernandez, who was the Reds' catcher from 2009-11, batted .208 in 17 big league games this season for the Dodgers. He was released June 22 and signed by Toronto on June 29. He batted .105 in five games for Buffalo.
Jack Hannahan, who started at third base on Tuesday, was the emergency catcher for the Reds.
"That's why I had him warming up the pitcher yesterday," Baker said. "He might be a second catcher."