6/13/2014 7:51 P.M. ET
Latos takes nothing for granted as activation looms
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- Right-hander Mat Latos has been through so much since he last stepped on the mound for the Reds, he takes nothing for granted, even on the eve of his activation from the 60-day disabled list.
Latos will make his season debut vs. the Brewers and Yovani Gallardo on Saturday, having last pitched on Sept. 25, vs. the Mets. After that he was scratched from the Wild Card Game vs. the Pirates because of soreness in his arm. He had elbow surgery in October to remove bone chips, and in February, just as Spring Training opened, there was surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee.
In April there was another setback -- a strained flexor mass tendon in his right forearm. And last week, during his third rehab start for Triple-A Louisville, a cramp in his calf ended his night early and led to one more outing.
"I feel really good. It's always a thought in your mind. 'I haven't been here in a while. I haven't done this in a while.' I really haven't faced good, quality hitters, big league caliber, since September," Latos said on Friday. "I know the stuff that I have. I know a lot of the hitters. It's just more 'How I'm going to do?' It's nervousness."
This has been the first time Latos dealt with injuries that kept him out for a long period.
"I do the right thing to make myself better to come back and pitch for the ball club I love performing for and more [stuff] keeps happening," Latos said. "It was, 'When do I get to the light at the end of the tunnel?'"
Latos passed a final test with a successful bullpen session on Thursday before manager Bryan Price could finally and formally put him on the schedule.
"He brings a lot to the table. He brings a lot of wins," Price said. "He has a real high winning percentage as a young Major League starting pitcher and a lot of wins for us the last two years. We're always looking for a boost. That's a boost."
Price did not reveal the planned transaction to make room for Latos on the 25-man roster. Left-hander Tony Cingrani will come out of the rotation, but it hasn't been decided if he will go to Triple-A Louisville to work as a starter or remain in the Reds' bullpen.
X-rays negative, Phillips in lineup vs. Brewers
MILWAUKEE -- X-rays taken Thursday on the sore right index finger of second baseman Brandon Phillips were negative. Diagnosed with a contusion, and having been examined by the team's medical staff before and after batting practice, Phillips was in the lineup, batting fourth, on Friday vs. the Brewers.
In the sixth inning of Thursday's 4-1 win over the Dodgers, Phillips fielded a Yasiel Puig grounder for a potential double play.
The ball caught Phillips' finger, he bounced the flip to shortstop Zack Cozart and the Reds settled for one out. In the eighth inning, Phillips was lifted for pinch-hitter Ryan Ludwick.
"He had a lot of swelling in that at-bat he had after he injured his finger," manager Bryan Price said. "It was very painful. He could have stayed in that game to play defense. Because we got to his spot in the order, I decided to make that change and hit there."
Reds still mulling Cingrani's fate
MILWAUKEE -- Left-hander Tony Cingrani understood the situation. With Mat Latos due to return from the disabled list and start in his spot on Saturday, Cingrani is the odd man out of the rotation. Alfredo Simon, who had replaced Latos in Spring Training, has pitched too well to come out.
The only question left is this: Does Cingrani go to Triple-A Louisville to start, or remain with the Reds and pitch out of the bullpen? Manager Bryan Price and the team are still mulling that over.
"Obviously, we have to make that decision here in the next 24 hours," Price said. "We're trying to figure out what is the best thing for our club."
Cingrani is 2-7 with a 4.68 ERA in 11 starts overall and 0-5 with a 6.26 ERA in six games since returning from the disabled list on April 30 after dealing with mild tendinitis in his left shoulder. Simon is 9-3 with a 2.95 ERA in 13 starts.
"Whatever they want me to do, I'm just along for the ride right now, because Simon is doing so well. I can't really have an opinion right now," Cingrani said. "I'm comfortable throwing wherever. Obviously, I love being up here and everything that goes with it. I'll do what they want me to do and always take the positive out of it and go do my job where I need to go do it."
Because Simon went from the bullpen to the rotation, the Reds have lacked a long reliever all season. They have been fortunate not need one, as the rotation has the second-most innings pitched in the National League.
"But between rain delays and ineffectiveness -- you can't ask for starters to play 60-plus games and not have a start where they're knocked out in the second or third inning every now and again," Price said. "When you want to win, and we do -- we expect to win -- we want to have our best club on the field. At this point you could make a very strong case for Tony staying with us."
Should he be sent down, Cingrani is ready to make the most of it.
"Basically, I need to work on staying focused the whole game and repeating my mechanics every single pitch and eliminating the mistakes," he said. "Obviously, when I make a mistake, they hit a home run. That's not a good mistake. If I do get sent down, I'll just work on my mind for a while and try to mix pitches and work on things that I haven't been able to work on up here."