Reds’ RBI leader back in the lineup after ankle injury

Eugenio Suarez grabbed a pair of red spikes out of his cubicle in the Great American Ball Park home clubhouse just as a couple of reporters approached.

“I’m sorry guys, but I’ve got to do my work,” he said, heading toward the door to the tunnel leading to the field. “I’m going to run and see what happens.”

Cincinnati’s third baseman was on his way to test the right ankle he injured when sliding back into second base in the first inning of the Reds’ 5-3 loss on Tuesday at San Francisco. He stayed in the game and doubled and homered before sitting out Wednesday’s 6-3 win.

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“I don’t think I felt it at the time,” said Suarez, who went into Friday’s series opener against the Cubs hitting .297 with a team-high 30 runs batted in despite missing 16 games earlier this year with a fractured thumb. “After hitting a homer and a double, it felt great. The tougher time was the day after.

“It scared me at first,” he added. “That’s why I called time.”

X-rays on the ankle were negative and Suarez passed his on-field tests well enough to return to Cincinnati’s starting lineup on Friday.

“I did all the running – side-to-side, backpedaling,” he said. “The ankle feels great. I think I’ll be all right.”

After getting reports on Suarez, interim manager Jim Riggleman placed Suarez in the starting lineup, batting third for the second consecutive time he was available and the second time this season.

“He passed the tests,” Riggleman said. “He’s not 100 percent, but unless some unknown soreness happens over the next couple of hours, he’ll be in the lineup.”

First baseman Joey Votto batted fourth for the first time this season and 29th time in his 11-year career. Votto batted cleanup for the first time since hitting in that slot for both games of a doubleheader against San Diego on May 15, 2014.

Who pitches when: Right-hander Luis Castillo is scheduled to start for Cincinnati in Saturday's 1:10 p.m. game, the first of a day-night doubleheader. Right-hander Sal Romano is due to start the 7:10 nightcap – his preference, Riggleman said.

“You try to get a feeling of which guys prefer day vs. night,” Riggleman said when asked how decided which pitcher would start which game. “Romano felt strongly about pitching the night game. It didn’t matter to Castillo, so he got the day game.”

Teams in the situation faced by the Cubs and Reds have the option of adding for doubleheader days an extra pitcher, but Riggleman wasn’t sure if the Reds would be calling anybody up. Days off bracketing the four-game series – on Thursday and Monday – give the team some flexibility.

“It would be based on what happens (on Friday) and what’s going on in Louisville,” Riggleman said.

Pitchers' progress: Right-handed pitchers Anthony DeSclafani both continue to make progress in their return from injuries that have kept them out all season.

DeSclafani threw two sets of 15-pitch bullpen sessions after turning in three perfect innings for Double-A Pensacola on Monday. DeSclafani, trying to get over a left oblique strain, is scheduled to throw 75-80 pitches in a start for the Blue Wahoos on Saturday.

Lorenzen, plagued by a right shoulder strain, threw one inning on Monday and Wednesday, followed by a bullpen session on Thursday.

“Lorenzen threw an extended bullpen to simulate (pitching on) back-to-back days,” Riggleman said. “In his next outing, he’ll go two innings, and he could be up here within a couple of days of that.

“He’s closing in. We’re getting real close. I believe it could be between now and (May) 25.”

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