CINCINNATI -- The return of Reds closer Aroldis Chapman from the disabled list on Saturday does not just affect the club's plans for the ninth inning. It also gives manager Bryan Price some added flexibility in how he uses his entire bullpen, especially with Jonathan Broxton moving back to a setup role.
Broxton was 5-for-6 in save chances, while Sam LeCure and Manny Parra were used heavily in late-inning situations and performed well. But the bullpen has gone 3-8 overall, and relievers other than Broxton are a combined 1-for-6 in save chances with a 4.46 ERA that ranked 14th out of 15 National League clubs.
"I think where we've been successful in the past is having depth at each spot," Price said. "We can use Broxton on days we don't have Chapman. We can use LeCure and Broxton share some of the responsibilities of those late-game situations. [Lefty Sean] Marshall looked really good in Boston, and he's getting to the point where he can share some duties with Parra. [J.J.] Hoover can give LeCure a rest, [Logan] Ondrusek and etc."
One thing the Reds' bullpen has not been is overworked. The group's 74 2/3 innings entering Saturday were the fewest in the Majors, with the Braves having the second-fewest at 89 innings. That is a credit to the strength of the rotation, which came in tied for the Major League lead in innings pitched.
"There's just not a lot of opportunities for these guys to come in the fifth or sixth and, sometimes, the seventh inning," Price said. "We've spent a lot of time closing a game with one to two innings of bullpen work. For the most part, that's been Parra, LeCure and Broxton, with a bit of Hoover, a bit of Ondrusek. That's a good thing, but inevitably, there's going to come a time when they're going to be wishing for an off-day. That's just how the season works."
Mesoraco likely close to rehab assignment
CINCINNATI -- Because of afternoon showers on Saturday, the tarp covered the infield at Great American Ball Park and prevented Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco from running the bases.
Instead, Mesoraco tested his left hamstring by running "simulated bases" on the indoor track behind the Reds' dugout.
"I'm good to go, I believe," Mesoraco said. "I don't know what the official plan is yet, but they want me to go play a few games somewhere."
Mesoraco practiced tagging up, secondary leads and short sprints.
"I don't feel anything; it feels perfectly good," said Mesoraco, who strained his left hamstring on April 25. "There are no worries at this point."
Mesoraco was eligible to be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Sunday, but as of Saturday that was not expected to happen.
"I would say that's extremely unlikely," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "As early as next week, he could be playing, at least in a rehab game or two. That's probably going to be part of the equation just to validate that he's OK."
Reds rest Hamilton vs. Rox for 'one extra day'
CINCINNATI -- Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton notched a pinch-hit double and scored a run in the eighth inning during Friday's 4-3 victory over the Rockies.
However, Hamilton was still out of the starting lineup vs. Colorado on Saturday as he continued to work his way back from two sprained knuckles on his left hand.
"We're still evaluating there just to make sure he's 100 percent, 100 percent," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "A funny thing Dusty [Baker] used to say was that when you feel like a guy is ready, you give him one more extra day. I think all things considered, one extra day in this case allows him to get more swings right-handed, which is the side that's given him more trouble.
"You can expect him to be in there [Sunday]. I think that's safe to say."
Reds expect Cingrani back for Phillies series
CINCINNATI -- Reds starting pitcher Tony Cingrani, who has been on the disabled list since May 1 because of mild left shoulder tendinitis, threw a light bullpen session on Friday.
"It went well," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "Our plan is to have him ready for the Philadelphia series [next weekend]. When that time comes, we want him to feel like it's his Opening Day again. We want his arm to feel that good. We don't want him to get 80 percent recovery. We want 100 percent recovery, and we don't want to have to go back down the same road."
The Reds, who have used a four-man rotation because of multiple recent off-days, do not need Cingrani's spot until May 17 against the Phillies.
"If he's not ready … then we'll find somebody else to make that start and activate him when he's 100 percent ready," Price said.
Cingrani, 24, started on April 30 vs. the Cubs and exited after four innings when he displayed decreased velocity on his fastball. He rested for a few days before he resumed throwing on the side.
"He's not having any soreness. He's strong," Price said. "I fully anticipate he'll be ready to make that start."