HOUSTON -- A fleet of relievers remains on the market, should the Reds and general manager Walt Jocketty want bullpen help. But the search isn't as much on the front burner now that veterans Russ Springer and Jason Isringhausen were signed to Minor League deals in the past week. Jocketty isn't very pleased with the market for relievers anyway as the July 31 Trade Deadline approaches.

"It's still ongoing," Jocketty said Friday by phone from Dayton, Ohio. "Those guys are very good protection if we don't get somebody. But there's uncertainty because both guys haven't pitched this year, and Isringhausen is coming off elbow surgery. We feel pretty confident that both can help us."

Isringhausen met Triple-A Louisville in Gwinnett, Ga., on Friday after he agreed to his deal on Thursday. Springer has allowed one hit over four scoreless innings in four games since he joined the Bats.

Multiple teams have made it known that they are shopping some of their relievers -- including the Indians' Kerry Wood; the Royals with Kyle Farnsworth; the Blue Jays with Jason Frasor, Scott Downs and Kevin Gregg; and the Pirates with D.J. Carrasco and Octavio Dotel -- just to name a few.

"We'll continue to look at other people, though. I like to hedge my bets," Jocketty said.

Rolen participates in BP, fielding drills

HOUSTON -- Reds third baseman Scott Rolen has been absent from the club's lineup for a full week, as he didn't start against the Astros on Friday. But there was a sign of progress with his sore right hamstring.

Rolen took early batting practice in the indoor cage at Minute Maid Park and was evaluated by the training staff. Later in the day, during regular BP on the field, he took ground balls.

"He hit really well in the cage," Reds head trainer Paul Lessard said. "The past couple of days, it bothered him just to pivot on his back foot. He's making strides."

The Reds have tried holding off as long as possible from placing Rolen on the disabled list because they don't want to have to miss him for the full 15 days required. If he had a setback before his return, the club could backdate his DL stint to July 16, when he last appeared in a game.

Rolen is batting .287 with 17 home runs and 57 RBIs this season. One positive from the situation is that utilityman Miguel Cairo has played well in his place. Cairo is 5-for-18 (.278) in his previous six games at third base and is hitting .407 (11-for-27) over his previous 10 games.

"Miguel has been a savior over there, really anywhere we put him," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

Matthews elects to opt out of contract

HOUSTON -- The Reds learned on Friday that outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. will opt out of his contract with Triple-A Louisville. The club had until Saturday to call Matthews up or he could trigger a clause in the deal that allowed him to become a free agent. He signed a Minor League deal with that stipulation on June 24, shortly after being released by the Mets.

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty informed agent Scott Leventhal that he didn't have any room to add Matthews to the Reds.

"Everything was amicable," Leventhal said on Friday night. "It just didn't work out. It's wasn't for lack of performance. They didn't have the roster spot."

Matthews will seek a big league job elsewhere.

"We're not going to play Triple-A anywhere else," Leventhal said. "He has nothing left to prove. He's a 10-year veteran that spent the last 30 days in Louisville and putting up good numbers."

Reds manager Dusty Baker is a close friend of Matthews, as well as his father, former big leaguer Gary Matthews Sr. However, Baker has maintained little contact with either man since the younger Matthews joined the organization.

"If he asked me, I'd talk to him. I've only talked to him once since he got here," Baker said before word of Matthews' decision was known. "To tell the truth, I'm so close to him and his father, that's why I stayed away from the whole process of signing him in the first place. ... I hope he stays even if it doesn't fit right now."

That won't be happening. The younger Matthews, 35, has played well for Louisville and entered Friday batting .313 with three home runs, six RBIs, 15 runs scored and a .359 on-base percentage in 22 games. He was still in the Bats' starting lineup against Gwinnett.

Fisher shows improved efficiency vs. Nats

HOUSTON -- The only real positive coming out from the Reds' 7-1 loss to the Nationals on Thursday was Carlos Fisher's 3 2/3 scoreless innings of long relief after Edinson Volquez departed early. The Reds recalled Fisher from Triple-A Louisville on Wednesday.

Fisher, who allowed one hit without a walk and struck out four, threw 44 pitches. Walks and pitch economy have been issues in previous call-ups for Fisher, who had a 10.80 ERA in 11 appearances during his first stint this season.

"I felt great. It was hot, but the arm and the body felt great," Fisher said on Friday.

"It was almost motivation to have quick innings because it was so hot. I kept telling myself to try and throw as many strikes as you can and get out of here as soon as you can. It felt real good to get some quality innings in and keep going the way I'm going."

Worth noting

Saturday's scheduled starter for the Reds, Johnny Cueto, has the flu and may not be able to pitch. No decision has been made yet, but Sam LeCure, a right-hander currently in Triple-A Louisville, was scratched from his start on Friday. LeCure could be a potential replacement if Cueto isn't well enough.