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08/21/10 10:39 PM ET

Harang's rehab struggles pose dilemma

Reds must decide if rotation has room for right-hander

LOS ANGELES -- It's become a legitimate question: Will Aaron Harang return to the Reds' rotation at all this season?

Harang's second rehab start with Triple-A Louisville on Friday did not offer much optimism. He pitched six innings and allowed six earned runs and nine hits with no walks and five strikeouts while throwing 95 pitches.

In his two starts for Louisville, Harang is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA, with 14 hits and 11 runs surrendered over 11 innings. He hasn't pitched for the Reds since June 30 after he went on the disabled list with lower back spasms.

"The things we really look for initially are health and stamina, which is the two reasons he is doing the rehab," Reds pitching coach Bryan Price said on Saturday. "Of course, the third part will be pitch quality. His pitch quality, through two rehab starts, hasn't been great. But his stamina and durability have improved throughout the course of this. That's the silver lining after a couple of tough outings."

Price said he has spoken to Harang about the outing. What happens next remains the dilemma. There are no deserving candidates to come out of the rotation to make room for Harang. In the bullpen, former starter Mike Leake is already the long reliever. Leake is a much better hitter than Harang, which can keep him in games longer.

The Reds could keep Harang on his rehab assignment and activate him after rosters expand on Sept. 1.

A meeting between Harang, Price, manager Dusty Baker and general manager Walt Jocketty is likely to determine what becomes of the longest-tenured Reds player this season.

"I think anything can happen," Price said. "The only thing we do know is he appears healthy and strong enough to pitch without risk of re-injury. Now we have to decide what's best for Aaron, what's best for our ballclub and make a plan from there."

Janish 'outstanding' as fill-in for Cabrera

LOS ANGELES -- The Reds are not rushing injured shortstop Orlando Cabrera back off the disabled list from a sore left oblique muscle. They don't have to with the way Paul Janish has filled in.

Janish has played every game at shortstop for the Reds since Cabrera went down on Aug. 3. He entered Saturday batting .296 (16-for-54) in his last 15 games with two homers while playing spectacular defense.

"He's been outstanding," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He's gotten some key hits and very key walks. Especially in the eighth spot, you need a guy that can drive in some big runs and also bring the pitcher to the plate with either a hit or walk, especially with two outs so we don't have to pinch-hit for him the next inning and the pitcher isn't leading off the next inning."

Baker was asked if Janish might be due for a day off soon to keep him from wearing down. Remember that Janish played sparingly much of this season.

"He's not tired. He's had four months to rest," Baker said. "You go ask if he needs a day off. "

As for Cabrera, it looked more and more like his return wouldn't come until after the road trip was completed. The Reds head to San Francisco next.

"We'll see. I'm not sure," Baker said. "It's going to be cool and that doesn't help the situation. Whenever he says he's ready, we'll give him another couple of days."

Baker uncertain if Rolen will rest for finale

LOS ANGELES -- Reds third baseman Scott Rolen is often rested for day games that follow night games, but manager Dusty Baker wasn't sure yet on Saturday if he would give Rolen the break or not.

"I saw him take a couple of swings [Friday]," Baker said. "He didn't look quite like Scott. I go on how they move and swing and what I see. He's not quite there yet."

Baker prefers to have Rolen to play all three games against the contending Giants, but could also give him the Wednesday afternoon game off before Thursday's scheduled off-day.

Reds, Double-A Carolina extend affiliation

LOS ANGELES -- The Reds extended their affiliation agreement with Double-A Carolina for two more seasons through 2012, it was announced on Saturday.

Cincinnati has been sending players to the Mudcats since last season and count current Reds big leaguers Chris Heisey, Logan Ondrusek, Jordan Smith and Travis Wood among their alumni.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.