PHOENIX –– In April, when Cincinnati Reds infielder Brandon Drury made the Opening Day roster as the injury replacement for a backup infielder, he was only expected to be a platoon player against left-handed starting pitchers.
Then when second baseman Jonathan India and third baseman Mike Moustakas each missed half of the first month of the season, the window cracked open for Drury to get playing time. Two months later, Drury is one of the Reds’ most valuable players of the 2022 season.
On Monday at Chase Field, Drury hit the game-tying three-run home run as the Reds beat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 5-4. Drury erased a three-run deficit and hit his team-high 12th home run of the season.
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“I’m excited to keep proving myself,” Drury said. “We’ve still got a lot of games left but I’m looking forward to it for sure.”
No other Reds player has more than eight homers all season. Among the team’s qualifying hitters, Drury leads the Reds with a .276 batting average and a .861 OPS. His OPS ranks 21st in MLB.
“I’ve been trying to let the ball travel (to me) a little bit more,” Drury said. “Letting the ball get a little deeper on me and taking an aggressive swing. I think that’s allowing me to pick up off-speed (pitches) a little bit better and just see the ball better.”
Drury only got his first consistent opportunity of the season when India and Moustakas were injured. On Monday, for the first time since April 14, India and Moustakas were both available to play in the same game.
India has missed most of the year with a hamstring injury, and Moustakas has had three different stints on the injured list. India didn’t start on Monday because he was a late addition to the active roster for the game, but he’ll start every day at second base going forward. Moustakas, who signed one of the biggest free agent deals in Reds history, will continue to have a role as a power hitter in the lineup.
But Drury has shown enough that his playing time isn’t expected to go down even with India and Moustakas’ return. Even though Drury plays the same two positions India and Moustakas play, Reds manager David Bell said Drury’s role has been established.
“Not only the home run but just everything he brings to our team, the intensity, the…