PHOENIX -- The reports from Reds pitcher Mat Latos' second rehab assignment start for Triple-A Louisville on Saturday were positive. Against Columbus, Latos pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings and allowed three hits and two walks with three strikeouts. He threw 81 pitches including 46 for strikes.
"It was really good to get him into the fifth inning and get his pitch count up," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It would be reasonable to think he could be somewhere between 90-100 pitches his next time out if he's efficient enough to stay in the game that long, which he is capable of doing that. At that point in time, we would like to have him feel about as close to 100 percent as you can get before we activate him."
Latos has been on the disabled list all season after he had right elbow surgery in October to remove bone chips and February surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee. In April, he suffered a setback when he strained the flexor mass tendon in his right forearm.
The third rehab start for Latos has been slated for Wednesday at Lehigh Valley. After that, the team will re-evaluate whether or not he's ready.
"I know pitching in Triple-A games and doing all the rehab he's done over the offseason and Spring Training and up to now, it's more challenging to be motivated to pitch with the same energy as he would in a big league game," Price said. "I would like to see something as close to that as possible."
Back end of bullpen superb at holding leads
PHOENIX -- The struggles this season for the front end of the Reds bullpen have been well-documented. But when Cincinnati has a lead in the late innings and turns it over to the back end of the bullpen, the outcomes have been much more positive.
Sam LeCure, Jonathan Broxton and closer Aroldis Chapman have had little difficulty protecting leads once a game reaches the seventh inning. Entering Saturday, the club is 20-1 when leading after the seventh.
"It's been close to lockdown type of performances. They've been terrific," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I'm very happy with how they're all throwing the ball."
LeCure came in with a 1.23 ERA in 20 appearances with two of his 12 inherited runners having scored. Broxton had a 0.57 ERA with five saves in six chances over 16 appearances and Chapman owned a 2.00 ERA with six saves in seven chances in his eight games. All three worked one scoreless inning each during Friday's 6-4 victory over the D-backs.
Chapman has been particularly effective since his activation from the disabled list on May 11 after he was struck in the face by a line drive in Spring Training. The left-hander has long been tough on hitters with his triple-digit velocity but has integrated secondary pitches this season that have given them added difficulty.
Of Chapman's 13 pitches for the save in the ninth inning on Friday, Chapman threw two changeups and five sliders.
"I think he could be, with the addition of the changeup and the way he's throwing his slider, this could be as well as he's thrown the ball since I've been here," said Price, who joined the Reds as pitching coach before the 2010 season. "He has three pitches he's throwing for strikes. That changeup, even though it's 88-90 mph, is still a 10 mph speed differential. It's been a terrific pitch for him."
Mesoraco gets a rest after big night
PHOENIX -- Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco was not in the lineup Saturday vs. the D-backs one night after hitting two home runs, including a grand slam, for a career-high five RBIs in a 6-4 win. Brayan Pena was behind the plate, as he usually is when ace Johnny Cueto pitches.
"It's hard to sit Devin, especially after he moved back to the seventh spot in the lineup and did some real damage for us down there," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It doesn't mean that Brayan will catch every start for Johnny. But Johnny has been so good, I hate to disrupt it."
Mesoraco entered the night batting .355 with eight homers and 25 RBIs in 26 games despite two stints on the disabled list this season.
Price was asked if there was a way to play Mesoraco at a different position to get his legs rested while still keeping his bat in the lineup.
"Right now, he's catching four out of every five [games]," Price said. "You've got [Yadier] Molina and [Miguel] Montero over here and these guys might catch a month straight without a day off if you have enough [scheduled] days off in the month. I don't think it necessitates that at this point in time.
"There could be some benefit to it if he played some first base because that would allow him to stay in the lineup in this current situation. But if Joey [Votto] was healthy, it would be almost impossible to find a spot for Devin anywhere else. I don't see him as a corner outfielder or third baseman."
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Mesoraco joined Andy Seminick, Smoky Burgess, Johnny Bench and Javier Valentin as the only catchers in Reds history to hit two homers, including a grand slam, in one game.