LeCure perfect in his return to Reds' bullpen

LeCure perfect in his return to Reds' bullpen

CINCINNATI -- Following nearly five seasons in the Majors, reliever Sam LeCure got stunning news in Spring Training that he did not make the Reds' 25-man roster. Not only was he sent down to Triple-A Louisville, he was outrighted and removed from the 40-man roster.

Nearly five months later, LeCure was back in the big leagues with Cincinnati when he was called up on Wednesday when outfielder Billy Hamilton was placed on 15-day disabled list and reliever Dylan Axelrod was optioned to Louisville.

"I feel ready to be back. I couldn't say the same a couple of months ago. It was a pretty humbling experience going down there," LeCure said. "I got away from being who I am and trying to be somebody I wasn't, and that's a bad place to be. Once I felt like I began to accept who I was -- I'm never going to be Aroldis Chapman unfortunately -- but I can still get outs and do it my way. I got back into doing that and starting to feel real comfortable about how I was attacking guys and throwing strikes on a consistent basis. The stuff returned to my norm, which is unremarkable, but still good enough."

LeCure had a strong showing in his first game back during the Reds' 4-3 loss to the Royals. Taking over in the top of the seventh, he worked two perfect innings with two strikeouts.

LeCure excited to return to Reds

LeCure's 231 games pitched for the Reds from 2010-14 was third-most on the club in that span. He had a 3.81 ERA in 62 games last season, but struggled in the second half and displayed lowered velocity while getting hit a lot in spring.

In 41 games this season for Louisville, LeCure was 5-4 with a 5.25 ERA. But he had a 1.93 ERA over his last eight appearances, including a 0.90 ERA over his last six games with one earned run, three hits and no walks over the past 10 innings.

"It was a very difficult decision in Spring Training not having Sam make the club," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "First of all for what he's done as a performer and No. 2, for what he's meant to us as a person and a guy of character. That influence is significant.

"He had a really difficult start to his Triple-A season, probably the first 2 1/2 to 3 months, he really struggled there. But our promise was that if he got back on top of his game, we'd get him back here. And he has."

Happy for the promotion, LeCure was greeted warmly by his teammates and got a new locker spot next to injured veteran pitcher Homer Bailey.

"I feel like I've been pretty good as far as never taking a day for granted," LeCure said. "I'm always appreciative of the opportunity, even spending the time down there. It's a good perspective as far as seeing some of the other things that go on in the world and understanding that I'm playing Triple-A ball, I get to play ball every day, it's not that bad. I had a great woman by my side -- I don't like to get into my private life, but she was great being supportive and everything, and being by my side and treating me like a Major Leaguer every day. It's definitely nice to be back."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.