Chapman throws live BP without screen
Reds closer wants another 'pen session before rehab assignment
ATLANTA -- Reds closer Aroldis Chapman had a successful second live batting practice of pitching to Reds hitters on Saturday, namely because he did it without using a screen. But Chapman would like one more session of live BP before going out on a rehab assignment to improve his physical stamina.
"I would be able to go to the Minor Leagues right now, but to be honest, I need at least one more simulated game," Chapman said via translator Tomas Vera. "I think that's what we're going to do -- throw another simulated game before I decide to go somewhere else."
Chapman is tentatively scheduled for another live BP on Tuesday at Great American Ball Park.
"The first thing is I want to keep facing hitters here on the team," Chapman said. "Our hitters are better for me to face than some of the other ones. The other thing is I feel like a couple of more days working on my physical condition and being in shape will help me. I want to be in the shape that I know I can be."
On Saturday, Chapman threw 43 pitches to teammates Tucker Barnhart, Neftali Soto and Ramon Santiago. To simulate a game situation, he pitched a 20-pitch first inning, rested for about five minutes and threw another 23 pitches. Only a couple of his pitches were hit out of the infield.
"He looked really good, woo. Really, really good," Barnhart said.
It was a significant day, according to manager Bryan Price, because Chapman worked without a screen for the first time after using one on Wednesday in Pittsburgh. He appears to have fully recovered, physically and mentally, from being struck in the face by a line drive on March 19, which left him with fractures above the left eye and nose that needed to be repaired surgically.
"I think it was a big step today to throw without a protective screen for the first time since the incident happened in Surprise," Price said. "If one more outing makes him feel physically and mentally more prepared to face hitters in a game situation, that's great.
"I also feel these simulated games we're throwing are as valuable in his preparation to be activated, even if he'll be pitching in Cincinnati in a simulated game on Tuesday. That's one more day of rehab we knocked off had he been in Louisville, Dayton or Pensacola. I think he's shaving days off of his rehab every time he goes out there and throws."
Price was confident that Chapman wouldn't need a long rehab assignment once he is ready. Unlike relievers Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton, who recently returned from disabled-list stints, Chapman did not have an arm injury and has been able to maintain a throwing program.
"He got stretched out in Spring Training, he got to three innings. His arm is in great shape, we're still working a little on stamina after the time off," Price said. "I hate to put a number on it, because that'd be reckless, but I don't think that once we send him out, it'll be much more than a week, I wouldn't guess."
Chapman has no concerns about being re-injured by another ball hit back towards the mound.
"I feel normal. I feel about the same. Actually, I'm really positive," Chapman said. "Since everything that happened to me, I've been really positive. I've never had a bad thought about if things can happen again or if I can have any trauma on my head again. They wanted to put [the screen] on the first time and we used it the first time just because it was the first time. I always felt that everything is going to be OK. I don't think it's possible it will happen again. I'm positive, mentally, that this will be OK. My mind is back to being able to do things without thinking about this."
Reds place Mesoraco on DL, recall Barnhart
ATLANTA -- The Reds on Saturday placed catcher Devin Mesoraco on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring and recalled catcher Tucker Barnhart from Triple-A Louisville. Mesoraco was injured during Friday's 5-4 loss while scoring on a Billy Hamilton double.
"It just isn't something that's going to be better in three-to-five days, it's probably every bit of 10-14," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "We really can't go without a second full-time catcher. Neftali Soto can catch, but we're not going to turn a full game over to him. We need Tucker here to support Brayan Pena."
Mesoraco, who grabbed the back of his leg and fell down before scoring on Friday, felt like he could still catch, but running would have been a problem.
"There was no way I could do any type of that stuff at this point," Mesoraco said on Saturday.
Mesoraco began the season on the DL because of a strained left oblique but promptly became the Reds' hottest hitter upon his return on April 7. He went on a career-high 11-game hitting streak that was snapped on Thursday.
In 13 games, Mesoraco is hitting .468 with three home runs, and his 13 RBIs are second on the team. He has had hamstring strains earlier in his career, he said, but nothing like this.
"This one, it's so hard to tell right now because it's so early," Mesoraco said. "In the next couple of days, we'll see how it responds to the treatment and everything. My goal is to be back on the 16th day. I want to be back as soon as I possibly can be. That's my focus at this point."
Pena will take over the bulk of the catching duties, and although he has hit well, the club will miss Mesoraco's presence in the lineup. However, Price expects the Reds to overcome this setback.
"It really comes down to how we see ourselves," Price said. "Our guys don't have to do more because Devin is not in the lineup. They just have to do their part, as do Brayan and Tucker."
Barnhart was batting .250 with one homer and five RBIs in 13 games at Louisville. During his first callup to the big leagues at the start of the season, he was 2-for-8 in three games. The Bats pulled Barnhart from their game vs. Syracuse on Friday, and the call came just before the team departed Louisville for a series in Buffalo.
"They had to pull my stuff off the bus just as it was getting ready to leave the parking lot," Barnhart said. "I felt like I was playing pretty well and things were going good."
Frazier out of lineup due to tightness in groin
ATLANTA -- After starting all 23 previous games, Reds third baseman Todd Frazier was not in the starting lineup on Saturday vs. the Braves. Frazier exited Friday's 5-4 loss to the Braves in the fifth inning because of tightness in his left groin.
Neftali Soto played third base in place of Frazier. It was Soto's first time starting a game in the big leagues.
"It gives us a chance to see him play," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He's been up and done nothing but pinch-hit except for [Friday] when he came in and replaced Frazier. We need to see him play. I don't think it's going to be any extended missed time right now, just an extra day. [Frazier] probably could play today if we really needed him to, but I think another day off will really help him."
Soto rose through the system primarily as a first baseman but is blocked by Joey Votto. He has gotten time in the Minors at third base and took up catching during Spring Training to maximize his value and versatility.
"I'm excited about it," Soto said about the chance to start. "I take ground balls at first and third in practice. I played all winter ball at third."
Price wants coach Smith to stay aggressive
ATLANTA -- Reds third-base coach Steve Smith has taken some risks during this season's first month, and not all have worked out. For the second time this road trip on Friday, a runner Smith sent home was thrown out. In the first inning, Joey Votto tried to tag up and score on a flyout to right field by Jay Bruce. The ball was not hit very deep to Jason Heyward, who has a strong arm, and Votto was easily nailed at the plate.
On Monday at Pittsburgh, Bruce was thrown out trying to score on a Devin Mesoraco single by left fielder Starling Marte in the eighth inning. Manager Bryan Price has instilled a message of aggressive baserunning since Spring Training and has no plans to curb his players, or Smith.
"When you talk about the throw by Marte and the throw by Heyward, they had to be where they were, you know what I mean?" Price said on Saturday. "Are we going to curb it? No."