Reds notes: Cozart hoping to finish strong

Shortstop Zack Cozart hopes his enforced time off now will pay off down the stretch.

Cozart hopes to return to the Reds’ lineup on Friday. He will have missed seven games while dealing with soreness in his left Achilles’ and patella tendons. He had to wear a walking boot for three days, even as late as Tuesday morning, but he was able to take batting practice in an indoor cage before Tuesday’s game against the Texas Rangers and planned to take groundballs on the field before Wednesday’s game.

“I hit in the cage and felt way better,” he said. “It feels good to pick up a bat. I was hoping to get on the field today, because I thought I’d be done with the boot (Monday), but they said take it home. They’re trying to calm it down as much as possible. The biggest problem is how much can I move side-to-side.”

Cozart figures his problems stem as much from playing more this season than last, which ended with surgery to repair his right knee in June. After playing in just 53 games last season, he is at 107 this year.

“From June 1, or maybe even a little before that, up to a couple of weeks ago, I was 100 percent,” the 31-year-old said. “For two months, I really felt good. Then, a couple of weeks ago, my knee started to feel a little tender, and I think I overcompensated.

“My legs hadn’t been where they were earlier in the year. That might’ve been because I only played 50 games last year and where am I at now? Over a hundred? It was more fatigue than problems related to the surgery. Maybe sitting out now will be beneficial to my whole body. I want to finish strong. Nobody’s feeling good right now, surgery or no surgery.”

Take it easy: Outfielder Tyler Holt has a harder knuckleball than the one that helped him wade easily through three Dodger batters in the ninth inning of Monday's 18-9 beatdown of the Reds.

“He throws a harder ball,” said Cozart, who’s caught Holt’s knuckler when the two have tossed before batting practice. “He throws it harder and it moves. It’s firmer.”

Catcher Tucker Barnhart wanted nothing to do with that pitch, said Cozart, whose Great American Ball Park cubicles are adjacent to Barnhart’s.

“He told Tyler, ‘Don’t throw the hard one,’ ” Cozart related. “ ‘I don’t have the right glove and I’ve never caught it. I don’t know if I can catch it.’ ”

Holt threw two knuckleballs and three of what he described as “batting practice” pitches while retiring all three batters he faced — just the second 1-2-3 inning logged by Cincinnati pitchers in the game.

Next: The Reds wrap up their two-game series with Texas and their 10-game home stand at 7:10 p.m. on Wednesday. Right-hander Tim Adleman (2-1), who allowed five hits in five scoreless innings against the Dodgers on Friday in his first start since May 19, is Cincinnati's projected starter. Right-hander Yu Darvish goes for the Rangers.

The Reds are off Thursday before embarking on a six-game road trip — three games in Arizona and three interleague games in Anaheim against the Angels.