CINCINNATI - Third baseman Edwin Encarnacion was sent to the minors Thursday by the Cincinnati Reds, who grew weary of his inconsistency in hitting and fielding.
Cincinnati Reds third baseman Edwin Encarnacion commits an error on a ball hit by Houston Astros' Adam Everett in the fourth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 9, 2007, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Encarnacion was optioned to Triple-A Louisville a day after his two throwing errors set up three unearned runs and a 3-2 loss to the Houston Astros. The Reds called up infielder Jeff Keppinger to replace him.
Keppinger was hitting .411 with no homers and two RBIs for Louisville.
Encarnacion was hitting .218 after going 3-for-16 on the Reds' homestand. His six errors were the most on the roster.
"I hope he goes down and works hard and works hard on his defense," manager Jerry Narron said. "He's got to be more selective at the plate. I think that's hurt him more than anything."
He had a pair of two-out throwing errors that extended innings and set up all of the Astros' runs Wednesday night, when the Reds lost for the seventh time in eight games and fell into last place in the NL Central.
"Last night was a tough game for us to lose and a tough game for him personally," general manager Wayne Krivsky said. "But I don't want to say last night was the reason. There were other things leading up. He'd get on a little bit of a stretch where he'd show some consistency, but it wasn't for long. It's up to him now to get down to work and prove us wrong, that he belonged here all the time. I'm confident he can.
"He's got to get to Louisville and work harder than he's ever worked before. We told him this could be a turning point in your career. You might look back on this some day and say it's the greatest thing that ever happened to me."
The 24-year-old infielder hit .276 with 15 homers and 72 RBIs last year, his first full season in the majors. He also had 25 errors, and the Reds stressed the importance of improving his fielding.
Ryan Freel can play third base while Encarnacion tries to regroup in the minors.