Hamilton returns; Phillips still day to day

Mesoraco suffers setback on rehab assignment

Hamilton returns; Phillips still day to day

CHICAGO -- The Reds received a bit of relief for their injury-stricken lineup on Friday afternoon, inserting center fielder Billy Hamilton back into the lineup before their game against the Cubs.

Hamilton returned to bat ninth after missing three straight games with a left wrist injury he aggravated on Tuesday. He cleared drills on Thursday with manager Bryan Price, now giving Cincinnati four players from its Opening Day starting lineup back in Friday's lineup.

Hamilton entered the day batting .222 this season with a .264 on-base percentage, but he has a Major League-leading 25 stolen bases, giving the Reds some much-needed speed.

Cincinnati is still without the full services of Brandon Phillips, though, as the second baseman remains day to day with a left groin injury, according to Price. Phillips played for the first time on Friday since suffering the injury in Tuesday's victory, pinch-hitting for starter Johnny Cueto in the eighth inning. He was deemed a "usable player off the bench" before he flew out to center field. He did not make an appearance in the field.

"He's definitely getting better each day," Price said. "It's a tenuous injury; I've alluded to it before. If it goes south, it won't be good. I'll be a little bit more conservative with this injury and we'll wait until we feel very confident he won't reinjure it or aggravate it."

Phillips took batting practice well, but "gingerly" took ground balls as he works his way back. Ivan De Jesus Jr. has been starting in his place.

But the good news on injuries doesn't extend to catcher Devin Mesoraco, who will not continue to his rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville and instead will travel to Cincinnati for "rehab work." He will be reassessed after the team's road trip.

Mesoraco injured himself in Wednesday's game against Columbus, going 0-for-2 with a strikeout before he was pulled with an injury to his hip. Mesoraco last played catcher on April 12, but got the OK from his surgeon to play in the outfield on June 5.

"We thought he could transition back to the outfield and it hasn't gone as well as we had hoped from a physical standpoint," Price said.

Greg Garno is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.