Reds add bench, catching depth in Skipworth

Reds add bench, catching depth in Skipworth

ST. LOUIS -- It certainly has been a wild couple of weeks for catcher Kyle Skipworth, who was recalled Monday from Double-A Pensacola by the Reds to take the 25-man roster spot of the traded Johnny Cueto.

From July 10-16, Skipworth hit a home run in five straight games for the Blue Wahoos. On Saturday, a video went viral of him and Pensacola manager Pat Kelly after they were ejected from a game.

"Tumultuous and exciting. Somewhat embarrassing," Skipworth said after arriving in St. Louis for the start of a three-game series. "You don't really want to be known for what happened on Saturday."

Skipworth, who was thrown out of the game while positioned behind the plate, stripped off all of his catching equipment during a heated argument. Kelly followed with a demonstration where he ejected the umpires and rubbed a rosin bag under his arm pits.

 

"It was one of those things, competitive nature, you feel like you have calls going against you, and an umpire kind of gets out of line," Skipworth said. "Managers that have managed me and players that have played with me know I'm not really one to lose my cool like that.

"Looking back, I wish probably that I wouldn't have done it. In the spur of the moment, I felt like it was what needed to be done."

Skipworth, who signed a Minor League contract with the Reds in the offseason, said he planned to appeal any discipline that came from the Southern League. He received lots of calls and text messages from family and friends as the video became a social-media sensation.

"When I was walking off, you're getting a standing ovation for throwing your gear at an umpire," he said. "You'd rather get it for a walk-off hit or a great play."

The Reds called up Skipworth for three days in April, but he did not get into a game. Monday's move gave Reds manager Bryan Price more bench flexibility and a catching option behind Brayan Pena and Tucker Barnhart.

Price, who had been with only four bench players while carrying eight relievers, was hesitant to use either Pena or Barnhart as pinch-hitters when they weren't starting. "Those are two really nice weapons hitting left-handed, along with [Skip Schumaker]," Price said. "Schu is my primary pinch-hit guy when he's not starting.

"Having Brayan or Tucker available, knowing I still have [Skipworth] on the bench, provides me at least with a really nice second option to Schu for an early pinch-hit at-bat when we need a lefty."

In 42 games with Pensacola and nine with Triple-A Louisville, Skipworth was batting .225/.308/.475 with nine home runs and 20 RBIs. In 160 at-bats, he struck out 80 times. As for the home run streak, the lefty-hitter felt locked in.

"It was very good. Obviously, I was seeing the ball good and putting together good at-bats," Skipworth said. "There was only one at-bat where I thought I'd swing for a homer."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.