SAN DIEGO -- Since the Reds went from a five-man to a four-man bench on June 21 to get an eighth reliever in the bullpen, manager Bryan Price has had be economical with his substitutions. That's especially been the case with how he utilizes pinch-runners.
"With a four-man bench, you try not to burn a lot of players and pinch-hit with one guy and pinch-run for the pinch-hitter," Price said on Tuesday. "If you have to do that in the last inning to make it work, that's fine."
Price tries to keep at least one available position player ready in case of injury. Because he started the game against the Padres on Tuesday, Mike Leake wasn't available for that duty. But Leake knows he is otherwise one of the leading options among pitchers to pinch-hit and pinch-run for Cincinnati.
"He is a usable piece and he knows that," Price said. "Typically we don't want to use him the day before he starts, I'd like him to maintain his routine, which is being in here and doing his charting and preparing for his start."
The other three days, Leake is at the ready.
"No doubt about it, he's an early-burn pinch-hitter, a guy that can pinch-run, he can get a bunt down for us if we don't want to burn [Ramon] Santiago or someone else early in the game."
Parra stays ready with Reds lacking need for relief
SAN DIEGO -- Just like most of the Reds relievers lately, left-hander Manny Parra has been idling behind the bullpen door and not getting into games. Of the eight-man relief staff, Parra has gone the longest without being used, since June 20, when he threw only four pitches vs. Toronto..
Parra, who leads the team with 34 appearances, was used a lot in April and May.
"I get a little more excited because it's been awhile. I've been through stretches before and you look at as, it's just rest," Parra said before Tuesday's game vs. the Padres. "There are times where we're getting used a lot. We're playing well and that's all that matters. We're winning ballgames. I try to look at the positive side of it. The more rest we get now, the more fresh we'll be for those crucial games later."
Parra was finally summoned in the sixth inning of an 8-2 loss to the Padres on Tuesday. He threw only one pitch -- for a strike -- to Seth Smith, but did not retire his batter. That's because Devin Mesoraco threw out Jake Goebbert trying to steal second base to end the inning. The Reds pinch-hit for Parra in the top of the seventh.
The Reds rotation entered the night 10-2 with a 2.43 ERA in the past 19 games. In early June, the bullpen was used heavily, but since Cincinnati blew an 8-0 lead in a June 20 loss to the Blue Jays, a starter has gone at least seven innings all but once in the past 10 games.
"Relievers, we're there out of necessity. If you don't need us, then we're not going to get used. It's the way it is," Parra said. "Our starting pitchers have been doing great."
Parra has been trying to stay busy, and prepared, for when he is needed.
"Those times can be used to get familiarity with the mound. There's always a fine line though of keeping yourself fresh for the game," he said. "You try to use your catch that day and focus on it and see if there is something you could be working on. I know I feel like I'm working on something every day."
Hannahan progressing from latest setback
SAN DIEGO -- Reds corner infielder Jack Hannahan, who has been on the disabled list all season since having October shoulder surgery, again made forward progress after a couple of setbacks.
Hannahan has resumed throwing and hitting following a period where he was shut down.
"We're getting much better reports on him and his recovery," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Tuesday. "I would hope that he would be a guy that at some point in time down the stretch he would be able to help us. I'm hoping that, I don't know that."
Hannahan began hitting off a tee just before the Reds left for the 10-game road trip. He has not started to throw across the diamond yet.
"He's been doing some things, and the throwing has been slowly progressing and much improved over the last attempt," Price said. "I think he's up to 75-80 feet right now."
The Reds have not determined who will start one of the games for next Tuesday's day-night doubleheader vs. the Cubs, which includes a makeup for an April rainout. There are a few options at Triple-A Louisville who could take the start, including David Holmberg, Chien-Ming Wang and Jair Jurrjens. Only Holmberg is on the 40-man roster, and he has pitched well since coming off the DL from a shoulder injury on June 11.
"There are a few considerations down there," manager Bryan Price said. "We still have time to move people around to get that right guy. But we also want to get more opinion from our Triple-A staff, etc."