The Reds' second half will begin with injuries, a big storyline of their season's first half, still looming large.
But even though not at full strength, a strong stretch over the last month and seven wins in the team's final nine games before the break has Cincinnati just 1 1/2 games behind in the National League Central. Devin Mesoraco and the Reds will travel to the Bronx to face Derek Jeter and the Yankees after a four-day hiatus.
Jeter will be embarking on the final second half of his career as the Yankees open a 10-game homestand looking to chase down the Orioles in the American League East.
The Reds are without two major parts of their lineup. Brandon Phillips will miss more than a month with a torn ligament in his left thumb, and Joey Votto is on the disabled list for the second time this season with a nagging right thigh injury. Manager Bryan Price isn't sure when either player will return to the middle of the Reds' order, but it appears the club will be more cautious with Votto.
"It's so far out -- and when I say 'far out,' it's more weeks; I'm not talking about months and months and months," Price said of Votto. "But with both Brandon and Joey, we're talking more about weeks than days. So I think it would be reckless of me to suggest there's a due date on when either one of them would be back."
Price did not yet announce a starting pitcher for the first game of the second half, and his decision will be influenced by how Homer Bailey (slightly strained right knee) and Mat Latos (back spasms) are feeling. Regardless of who starts, recent history is on the side of the Reds, who haven't lost their first post-All-Star break series since 2008.
Yankees right-hander David Phelps, who gets the start Friday, has been on a bit of a roll lately, at a time where the Yankees need someone to step up in starting rotation.
New York has lost four-fifths of its Opening Day starting rotation: Ivan Nova (elbow) is out for the year; CC Sabathia (knee) seems likely to follow; Michael Pineda (shoulder) is aiming for a return mid-August; and Masahiro Tanaka (elbow) is hoping to avoid season-ending surgery.
Meanwhile, during his last six starts, Phelps has allowed 13 earned runs in 37 1/3 innings and is 2-0 with a 3.13 ERA.
"He's been really, really good," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's been on a little bit of a roll for us, which is important."
Reds: Hoping to have Schumaker back after the break
A collision with an outfield wall caused Skip Schumaker to miss the final three days before the All-Star break, but the Reds are hoping to have him back and healthy for the start of the second half.
Schumaker slammed into the fence trying to catch a Luis Valbuena triple in the 12th inning on Thursday, and was placed on the seven-day concussion DL. Price said the outfielder also hurt his shoulder and Schumaker will be reevaluated before the team heads to face the Yankees.
"It was both a concussion and he banged his shoulder up pretty good in that collision with the fence, as well," Price said. "I really hope [we'll have him back after the All-Star break]. But that being said, there's no way to speed up either of those, the shoulder discomfort or the concussion symptoms. So we'll do our follow up after the All-Star break and see where he's at when we get to New York."
Schumaker, in his 10th Major League season, is hitting .240/.287/.315 in 47 games.
Yankees: Girardi yet to name a fifth starter
Girardi has not officially named a fifth starter to replace Masahiro Tanaka after the All-Star break.
Phelps will be followed by Brandon McCarthy and Hiroki Kuroda. Rookie right-hander Shane Greene won his first two starts and will almost certainly receive another opportunity to start again, and the final spot is up for grabs.
Girardi did say "obviously, Chase [Whitley] is the most built up" but Whitley struggled while filling in for Tanaka on Sunday, allowing three earned runs on five hits while lasting just 3 2/3 innings.
• The Reds entered this year's All-Star break with two fewer wins than last season. They were 53-42 last season and are 51-44 in 2014.
Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.