Reds call up former Dayton Dragons pitcher; Mesoraco dings knee

Dragons reliever Ariel Hernandez. West Michigan defeated host Dayton 5-3 in a low-Class A minor-league baseball game at Fifth Third Field on Friday, April 14, 2016. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

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Dragons reliever Ariel Hernandez. West Michigan defeated host Dayton 5-3 in a low-Class A minor-league baseball game at Fifth Third Field on Friday, April 14, 2016. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

The Reds optioned right-handed pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla to Triple-A Louisville before Sunday’s game.

They recalled right-hander Ariel Hernandez from Double-A Pensacola, adding a fresh arm to a bullpen that was forced to cover seven innings on Saturday after left-hander Cody Reed lasted just two in his first start of the season. Bonilla threw the first five.

“As is quite often the case when you have to have one of your relievers throw five innings in a game, he is typically the obvious choice,” manager Bryan Price said before Sunday’s game. “Bonilla wouldn’t have been available to us until the last game in Milwaukee. We needed a fresh arm. A lot of the roster guys have pitched recently (at Triple-A Louisville) – Sal Romano, Barrett Astin, Austin Brice, etc. The freshest arm is coming from Pensacola. We need some fresh arms after using Bonilla and Robert (Stephenson) so much the last couple of days.”

Hernandez, 25, was a 2015 Rule Five Class AA draft pick from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Dominican Republic native was 1-0 with a 1.13 earned-run average in in eight innings over four games with the Blue Wahoos. He’d allowed four hits and one earned run with four walks and 14 strikeouts.

“His arm strength and breaking ball stood out, just like we’d seen in reports last year when he was pitching in A ball,” Price said. “It’s a huge arm — every bit of 95-100 (mph) with a hard power curveball. He’s been throwing over the plate, which is a challenge for young, hard-throwing pitchers. He’s been doing a lot better. ”

When he makes his first appearance (he did not appear in Sunday’s game), he will become the eighth Reds player to make his major league debut this season. A total of 12 players made their major league debuts with the Reds last season.

Mesoraco's knee: Price wasn't sure about the status of Devin Mesoraco after the catcher banged up his knee in a crafty defensive play for Double-A Pensacola on Thursday.

Mesoraco, in the last stages of a rehab assignment with the Blue Wahoos, made the heads-up decision to cover third base on a bunt play, which ended up him with tagging out a baserunner, who slid hard into the bag.

“Devin got smoked in the knee on a tag play at third base,” Price said. “I don’t believe it is serious at all. I think it was a bunt play. The third baseman fielded it and (Mesoraco) circled back and tagged the runner who slid in and caught the inside of his knee. He was a little banged up, but he caught the rest of the game and caught the next day. (Saturday) was an off day. He was a little bit sore. ”

Mesoraco went 2-for-4 on Friday in the second game of second set of back-to-back nine-inning games of the week. He was the designated hitter in Pensacola’s lineup Sunday.

“He’s starting to hit – not that the hits are important, but our staff like the quality of at bats in his last two starts,” Price said. “I’d like to see him comfortable at the plate. He’s going to share time with Tucker when he comes back.”

Zack scratch: Shortstop Zack Cozart was scratched from Price's original starting lineup with a sore left wrist. Cozart was hitting .333 (10-for-30) with three doubles, one triple, one home run and five runs batted in on the home stand and a major league-best .486 against starting pitchers going into the game.

Road trip: The Reds left after Sunday's for a seven-day, six-game road trip, starting on Monday with the first of three games in Milwaukee. Left-hander Amir Garrett (2-1) is scheduled to start for Cincinnati against right-hander Matt Garza, who is coming off the disabled list after missing the entire season with a right groin strain.

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