CINCINNATI -- Reds third baseman Scott Rolen is optimistic about returning this season.

Rolen, who's been on the disabled list with a left shoulder injury since July 22, has taken ground balls the past two days and planned to take batting practice in the cage on Sunday.

"I feel good," Rolen said. "I've been taking grounders, hitting in the cage. Taking some flips and stuff. I'm close to getting back on the field. I'm not too far away."

Rolen said undergoing surgery earlier this month to clean out the shoulder was the right decision, and it's helped accelerate his rehab.

"I was in no-man's land there for a while," he said. "It was absolutely the right decision. I'm seeing the difference in the swings, just with the flips. Is that going to translate on the field? I hope so."

Rolen is batting .242 with five home runs and 36 RBIs in 65 games. This is his second stint on the DL for his left shoulder.

Rolen hopes to discuss a rehab assignment soon, although Triple-A Louisville's season ends on Sept. 4.

"I don't expect to be 100 percent pain-free," Rolen said. "But my shoulder is working great. I'm swinging [the bat] aggressively. It's been [awhile] since I've seen a pitch. I have to see how my body responds. We'll see about rehab assignments here pretty soon."

Injured Hernandez out for Cueto start

CINCINNATI -- Johnny Cueto pitched Sunday's game without his regular catcher Ramon Hernandez behind the plate for the first time this season.

Ryan Hanigan caught Cueto for the first time since July 19, 2010.

With Hanigan behind the plate, Cueto earned a no-decision while recording a career-high 11 strikeouts in Sunday's 5-4, 14-inning victory over Washington.

According to Reds manager Dusty Baker, Hernandez is nursing a sore forearm after being struck by a foul ball this past week.

"He was not available today," Baker said following Sunday's game. "Hopefully he'll be OK."

Baker was unclear when the injury occurred and Hernandez was not immediately available for comment. Hernandez will be evaluated again on Monday.

Baker ejected from finale for arguing call

CINCINNATI -- Reds manager Dusty Baker was ejected in the 12th inning of Sunday's game against the Nationals.

Baker took issue with a play that saw Drew Stubbs get thrown out attempting to steal second base. Baker argued the call and was tossed by second-base umpire Chad Fairchild.

The ejection was Baker's first of the season.

The Nationals were already playing without their manager, as Davey Johnson and bench coach Pat Corrales were ejected for arguing a call in the seventh.

Cordero climbing up all-time saves list

CINCINNATI -- Next stop for Reds closer Francisco Cordero on his climb up the all-time saves list is his idol and mentor, Jose Mesa.

Cordero earned his 29th save in Saturday night's victory over the Nationals, giving him 319 for his career, two shy of Mesa for 13th on the all-time list.

Cordero has worked out with Mesa in the offseason and lives near him in the Dominican Republic. Earlier this season Cordero joined Mesa as the only Dominican pitchers with 300 career saves.

"It means a lot to me," Cordero said. "It's big for me, and I know it's going to be big for the Dominican Republic. There's going be a lot of talk about it in the Dominican. [Mesa] has been a guy that I admired."

Cordero, who is 12-for-12 on save opportunities since the All-Star break, has allowed just two earned runs in 18 innings pitched.

Reds manager Dusty Baker said Cordero, who ranks third on the Reds' all-time saves list with 142, has earned Hall of Fame consideration.

"Why not? He's passed Hall of Famers," Baker said. "He's throwing the ball as well as we've seen him."

Heisey on track for Sept. 1 return

CINCINNATI -- Chris Heisey made his first rehabilitation start for Triple-A Louisville on Saturday, going 0-for-2 with a strikeout.

Heisey started in left field for the Bats in their 5-4 loss to Lehigh Valley. The outfielder has been on the disabled list since Aug. 7 with a strained left oblique.

Reds manager Dusty Baker said on Saturday that he expects Heisey to return to the big league club on Sept. 1.