Notes: Williams to face former mates

Notes: Williams to face former mates

CINCINNATI -- When he was a member of the Pirates, Dave Williams used to sit around with other pitchers as they talked about how they might get their teammates out if they ever had to face them.

Williams could be putting some of those theories into practice Sunday when he faces Pittsburgh in his Reds debut.

"You never thought you'd really have to use it," Williams said, smiling.

The man Williams was traded for in December, first baseman Sean Casey, has been already been treated to warm receptions from fans at Great American Ball Park the past three games. Because the fifth spot in the rotation didn't fall until Sunday, the lefty pitcher has had to wait a little longer for his chance to show the Reds' fans what they're getting in return.

"It'll be nice to get out there finally, in the setting and everything," said Williams, who was 10-11 with a 4.41 ERA last season with the Pirates. "I'll try to do my thing and hopefully win a ballgame."

Williams, who was 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA in six spring games, hasn't pitched since working a Minor League Spring Training game at the Reds' Sarasota, Fla., complex last Sunday. Since he will be pitching on six days' rest, instead of the usual four, he has done extra running and side throwing in attempt to stay sharp.

"You try to keep the strength you built up during Spring Training," Williams said. "The trainers here are pretty good with mixing it up so you're preparing yourself and moving right along so you're not sitting there waiting. I feel like I've prepared myself. It's just going out there and performing now."

Still targeting Tuesday: Injured catcher Jason LaRue caught his second bullpen session in two days, again without experiencing any problems with his surgically repaired right knee. LaRue has been pain free for several days and can move side-to-side, but still has a small amount of swelling.

"It didn't swell up on me any more from doing all the work I did yesterday. It actually got better," said LaRue, who had arthroscopic surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage on March 27. "I was skeptical yesterday, after the first day of catching, that it might swell up. It didn't. That's a good sign. This is a day-to-day thing. We're still shooting for Tuesday."

LaRue is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list before the Reds open a series vs. the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Reds manager Jerry Narron has already penciled the 32-year-old to start on Tuesday and Thursday with a day off in between when Greg Maddux pitches for Chicago.

That's because backup catcher Javier Valentin is 6-for-10 lifetime with four homers against Maddux.

Roster move: To make room on the 25-man roster for newly acquired infielder Brandon Phillips, the Reds optioned outfielder Chris Denorfia back to Triple-A Louisville.

Denorfia, a top outfield prospect, made the club last weekend when he was recalled from the minors. He went 2-for-3 this week. The organization wants him to play everyday.

"It's always tough," Denorfia said. "I'll go down and play and try to tear it up there."

No rest: Coming off Friday's late night, rain-delayed game, Narron held off posting a starting lineup until late Saturday morning. He wanted to make sure everyone felt OK, especially with cold conditions on the field Saturday afternoon.

Popping his head into Narron's office, center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. offered the only affirmation his skipper needed -- a quick thumbs up. Griffey was kept in his customary third spot in the order.

"It's great to see him in the lineup, I can tell you that," Narron said. "I just want to make sure we do everything we can to make sure he stays healthy."

With the exception of Valentin batting eighth and catching instead of David Ross, the Cincinnati lineup was the same as it was Friday.

Seen and heard: Saturday's game was the first of five consecutive day games the Reds will be playing. Seven of their next eight games will be played under the afternoon sun. ... Reliever Chris Hammond's ninth inning walk to Jose Castillo Friday snapped a 26-inning streak without a walk being issued by the Reds pitching staff.

Griffey's bases loaded walk in the fourth inning of Saturday's 11-9 win gave him 1,540 career RBIs. It tied him with Willie Stargell for 30th on the all-time list.

Coming up: Williams will be opposed by Pirates right-hander Victor Santos in Sunday's 1:15 p.m. ET series and homestand finale.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.