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06/21/09 12:36 PM ET

Encarnacion beginning Triple-A stint

Reds third baseman takes first step in wrist rehab since June 9

CINCINNATI -- The road to returning to the Reds' lineup begins now for Edwin Encarnacion.

The Reds' third baseman, who has been out since April 28 after chipping a bone in his left wrist on a swing a day earlier against the Astros, will begin a rehab assignment in Triple-A Louisville on Sunday night. He was transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list on Saturday but is eligible to come off the DL this Saturday against the Indians.

Reds manager Dusty Baker said Encarnacion's path to returning to game shape could be more difficult than Spring Training.

"This is like going back to the beginning," Baker said. "In Spring Training, you're hitting live most days. And the pitchers weren't two and a half months into sharpness like they are now."

The jump to Louisville may come as a surprise considering the amount of time Encarnacion has missed. But Baker said he wants Encarnacion facing pitchers who have the best control to avoid reinjuring the wrist.

"That's a pretty big step right away," Baker said. "He won't have to worry about getting hit."

This is the first step for Encarnacion since June 9, when an MRI confirmed he suffered a setback. He has taken batting practice with the Reds over the past few days.

Encarnacion was hitting .127 with one home run and six RBIs in 19 games before the injury.

Steve Gartner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.