DeSclafani pain free as he nears return for Cincinnati Reds

“I felt good,” he said. “I was mixing it up. I was happy with the way everything was breaking and moving. Command’s going to come as I pitch and get into games.”

DeSclafani started the season on the disabled list because of a strained oblique muscle. He felt stiffness after throwing a simulated game at Great American Ball on April 6, and his return was delayed. He threw bullpen sessions twice on the road trip and said he hasn’t felt oblique pain for a week.

“I think this is the final little last stretch here,” he said, “and I should be back soon. I just want to get back here as quick as possible, whatever route that may be.”

Manager Bryan Price wants DeSclafani make two rehab starts at a minimum, so he can get to the point where he can throw 80-85 pitches.

“I wanted to see him pitch and not have any issues at all with his oblique,” Price said. “With the way he’s been throwing the ball since the initial injury, there haven’t been any issues from a structural standpoint. Even when he threw the simulated game here, he looked really good.”

Hot bat: Reds shortstop Zack Cozart began the seven-game homestand with a .483 average. He has hit safely in all eight of his appearances.

“He’s been outstanding,” Price said. “There’s no lack of confidence in his ability to cut or sprint or slide. He’s running around with a brace on his knee, which would seem to be somewhat cumbersome, but it doesn’t seem to bother him one bit. From a defensive and offensive standpoint, he’s been superior in his performance.”

Tuesday’s game: Alfredo Simon’s start was pushed back from Monday to Tuesday. Dan Straily made his first start of the season in the series opener after appearing in three games as a reliever.

Simon allowed five earned runs in 2/3 of an inning in his last start April 13 against the Cubs and pitched one inning of relief two days later. The Reds moved his start back one day because of that relief appearance.

“The key for him is to not force the velocity,” Price said. “He knows his velocity is down. You prioritize the velocity as opposed to the location. I think we’ll see a better outing from Alfredo.”

First pitch: Wayne grad and former Ohio State Buckeye Braxton Miller threw out the ceremonial first pitch Monday. His former teammate, Darron Lee, will throw out the first pitch Wednesday.

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