Rehabs progressing nicely for Cozart, Mesoraco

Rehabs progressing nicely for Cozart, Mesoraco

CINCINNATI -- Two players the Reds' daily lineup missed the most last season -- Zack Cozart and Devin Mesoraco -- were optimistic during Redsfest that they will be all the way back from their injuries when Spring Training begins.

Cozart, the Reds' shortstop, suffered a severe right knee injury when he slipped on first base while running in a June 10 game vs. the Phillies. The result was season-ending surgery to repair tears in both the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments.

"I don't consider it an offseason, because I've been working out ever since the end of August," Cozart said on Saturday during Redsfest. "Once I got my brace off, I've been gradually getting into my workouts. Technically, I've worked out the same amount of time now as I do in a normal offseason. And I still have two more months to work out and get even stronger. I'm doing great."

Mesoraco, 27, had a left hip impingement in April that limited him to 23 games last season, including only nine starts at catcher. On June 29, after several attempts at rehabilitation and therapy, he underwent season-endoing surgery to repair a torn labrum and remove a spur from a hip.

"I don't foresee any reason why I wouldn't be able to go to Spring Training and do everything from Day 1," Mesoraco said. "I expect to be 100 percent, as normal as the next guy."

Cozart, 30, saw team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek last week and again on Friday.

"He said everything looked great," Cozart said. "They said they wanted to see me move and how everything was doing. It went perfect."

Kremchek fitted Cozart with a new brace that will enable him to advance his workouts to hitting, taking ground balls and making lateral cuts when he runs.

"I've got my strength back," Cozart said. "I'm lifting heavy, probably heavier than I ever have. The strength is there. It's just a matter of getting the explosiveness back, because I haven't been able to do that kind of stuff.

"The ACL, even in 12 months, is not going to be healed up and as strong as it would be if it wasn't hurt. Obviously after 5 1/2 months right now, it's not perfect. The good news is the muscles around it are strong."

Before the injury, Cozart was enjoying a nice season for the Reds. He was batting .258/.310/.459 with nine home runs and 28 RBIs in 53 games. Like Mesoraco, Cozart expected to be in camp without limitations.

"Two months ago, if you had asked, I would have had no clue," Cozart said. "I still had my aches and pains getting back into everything. Fast-forward to now, I'm telling you I feel as close as I did before. I'm almost there. If I had to put a number on it, I'm 90 percent now. I still have over two months to get ready. I'll be ready Feb. 23, when I report. I feel like I should be full-go."

Mesoraco's walk-off double

Mesoraco, who lives in Pennsylvania, came to Cincinnati last week and will remain in town to work out until camp opens.

"I'm basically doing everything other than catching drills at this point," Mesoraco said. "They want to wait until after the new year. I've been hitting, throwing and running. All of that is going very well."

Of course, the biggest test for his hip is squatting. So far, so good.

"A lot of squatting," Mesoraco said. "I'm just not doing the catching exercises, like blocking and throwing from the squat. I'm squatting with weights. I'm squatting with a [weight] vest, with medicine balls, all kinds of different squatting."

Despite the injury that robbed him of most of the 2015 season, Mesoraco has treated this as a regular offseason.

"The way we set it up was to make sure everything stayed on track with my offseason program," he said. "At this point, it has been. Everything is 100 percent normal."

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.