© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

04/05/08 1:48 PM ET

Sore left hamstring benches Valentin

Starter expected back mid-week; Bako to catch until then

CINCINNATI -- There was a time during Spring Training when it appeared that the Reds likely would keep three catchers on their 25-man roster. Friday night, that number nearly was reduced to one.

Javier Valentin left Friday's game with a strained left hamstring. The starting catcher said he felt a slight pull following a fourth-inning double, but remained in the game. He then singled in the sixth, but was promptly replaced by pinch-runner Paul Bako, who took over behind the plate.

Valentin underwent an MRI on Saturday morning. According to Reds manager Dusty Baker, the test came back normal. Valentin was available to pinch-hit in Saturday afternoon's game against the Phillies, or catch in an emergency situation.

"I'll have to take a couple of days to see what's going on there," Valentin said. "It feels kind of sore. It did not feel right. I don't want to go hard and have something happen. I'm going to take things nice and easy."

Valentin said he felt tightness Friday after a couple of swings, but he does not feel it's anything serious.

"It's tight right now," he said. "In a couple of days, it'll be fine. If it's something worse, I wouldn't be able to move my leg like this. I don't think I pulled anything serious. I can still go. But, I don't want to do anything to make it worse. Going first to third, I'm not going to do that."

The injury comes at an inopportune time for Valentin, who was off to a good start, batting .500 (3-for-6) with a double in two games.

Baker was encouraged by the results of Saturday's MRI, but said any long-term absence by Valentin would put the club's catching situation in a state of flux.

"It's not as bad as we thought," said Baker. "We'll have to watch him run. It's not like he's a speed demon anyway. The MRI appeared normal. I asked Hattie [Scott Hatteberg] if he still had his catching skills, but we won't have to make any moves yet."

Bako is the only healthy catcher on the Reds' 25-man roster.

Incumbent starter David Ross has been on the 15-day disabled list since March 30 with lower back spasms. He's not eligible to be activated until April 14.

Hatteberg has 369 career appearances behind the plate. Ryan Hanigan is on the Reds' 40-man roster and available, if needed. Hanigan catches for Triple-A Louisville which currently is playing at Syracuse, NY.

Jeff Wallner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.