4/23/2013 12:12 A.M. ET
Cueto begins soft tossing from longer distances
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- It was a small step but a key one on Monday for injured Reds ace Johnny Cueto. Cueto began throwing and was soft tossing from distances of up to 75 feet.
"It went good. I'm happy," Cueto said afterwards at his locker.
Cueto, who went on the 15-day disabled list on April 15 with a strained right lat muscle, is expected to throw again on Tuesday.
"I just wanted to make sure that we calmed everything down and did strengthening," head trainer Paul Lessard said. "Now we'll start throwing as well as an exercise program to keep him strong."
Cueto is eligible to be activated from the DL on April 29. Currently, no date has been set for having him pitch off the mound in the bullpen.
X-rays on Broxton's pitching hand negative
CINCINNATI -- For the second time in three days, the Reds got good news from the X-ray machine.
Right-handed reliever Jonathan Broxton's X-ray was negative for a fracture on Monday night after he was struck on his pitching hand by a line drive off the bat of Cubs right fielder Nate Schierholtz. Broxton got two outs before Schierholtz hit a comebacker that he could not evade. After being examined by the trainer and manager Dusty Baker, Broxton was removed from the game and replaced by Logan Ondrusek -- who struck out Welington Castillo to end the inning.
On Sunday, two fingers on the right hand of shortstop Zack Cozart were hit trying to bunt. Cozart's X-rays were also negative.
Heisey struggling to find consistency at plate
CINCINNATI -- Chris Heisey was handed a 14-karat golden opportunity for regular play in the Reds lineup when left fielder Ryan Ludwick injured his shoulder on Opening Day. Heisey hasn't really taken off and run with it, however.
After Monday's 1-for-4 performance, Heisey was batting .179 (12-for-67) with one home run and four RBIs while starting 13 of the club's 18 games. That included a 5-for-25 clip on the current homestand.
"I'm not surprised that he hasn't taken off but I'm a bit surprised that he hasn't done better," Reds manager Dusty Baker said on Monday. "But since Heisey has been here, I've sort of spotted him against certain kinds of pitchers. Everybody was hollering that they wanted Heisey to play every day but sometimes, matchups are better than playing against everybody."
Heisey, who has been the fourth outfielder since his first callup in 2010, had previously been spotted time against fastball pitchers where his swing has been more successful.
"I'm obviously disappointed with my start but at the same time, I'm trying to use it as a building block to consistency and be more mentally strong," Heisey said. "Sometimes, we let our struggles get us down or give us negative thoughts. I'm trying to use it as a positive, learn what's not working and the next time I don't feel so good, maybe I can get out of it a little quicker."
One thing Heisey has going for him is time. Ludwick, who had right shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum, isn't expected to return until sometime around the All-Star break. Lefty hitting outfielder Xavier Paul has played well during his chances and rookie Derrick Robinson brings a lot of speed to the table.
If Heisey continues to struggle, could a platoon be employed?
"I don't know. It all depends on him," Baker said. "He's so good defensively out there, especially on the corners. I need his defense in there, not to take anything away from X or Robinson. I just need to play him behind certain pitchers on our staff [who throw fly balls]."
Heisey was dropped from second to seventh in the batting order last week, and is certainly aware of his need to produce.
"At the same time, I try not to put any more pressure on myself," Heisey said. "I go out there and play every day and do the best that I can."
Marshall looks good in rehab start for Triple-A Louisville
CINCINNATI -- Reds left-handed reliever Sean Marshall, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 10 (retroactive to April 8) because of tendinitis in his left shoulder, pitched on a rehab assignment Monday night for Triple-A Louisville.
He pitched a 1-2-3 inning, striking out two, and threw eight of his 12 pitches for strikes.
Marshall is eligible to be activated on Tuesday, but Reds manager Dusty Baker indicated that it might take longer.
"There could be some more [rehab games]," Baker said. "Usually one is not enough. You've got to do a day in between, then usually a back-to-back. We'll see how he comes out of this.
"Just the fact that he went out is a positive sign."
Ondrusek's tweaks paying dividends
CINCINNATI -- Reds reliever Logan Ondrusek was the victor in Sunday's 10-6 win over the Marlins after striking out the side in a perfect seventh inning. Ondrusek did it with his best stuff, throwing 17 pitches.
"I was effectively wild," Ondrusek, who struck out the only batter he faced in Monday's 5-4 win, said. "The command wasn't as good as it's been the previous games. The results, I'll take them every time. Overall, it's been a positive as far as throwing more strikes and feeling comfortable and everything. Right now, that's what I'm looking for."
Following a subpar Spring Training, Ondrusek was sent to Double-A Pensacola to work on some things with pitching coach Tom Brown. A couple of mechanical flaws were spotted and improvements were made to Ondrusek's cutter, one of his primary pitches.
"[Brown] had me for a little over two years in Florida. He said I was similar to before but I had more of a head tilt because my arm was getting too high," Ondrusek said. "Whenever I get that [cutter] going, everything falls into place."
• Cozart was back in the lineup on Monday against ex-Reds pitcher Travis Wood. Cozart missed only one game after two fingers on his right hand were hit by a pitch while bunting. He went 0-for-4 with a walk in the 5-4 win.
"He was feeling pretty good yesterday," Baker said. "Plus, he doesn't want to miss his friend, Woody. When you don't play against your friends, they think you're ducking them. I know I could never sit out against [former Astros right-hander] J.R. [Richard]. My batting average would have been a lot higher if I did."