Sampson slowed by triceps discomfort

Sampson slowed by triceps discomfort

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds pitcher Keyvius Sampson is trying to earn a role in the bullpen this spring, but a setback will keep him from pitching for the near future. Sampson, who had bone chips removed from his right elbow after last season, is feeling triceps discomfort in the same arm.

"I'm out for a little bit," Sampson said Monday morning. "They don't think it's too much to worry about. I had the operation last year. I think they're just saying the elbow is back getting used to it. It's going a little slower right now."

Sampson, 25, was scratched from his scheduled appearance Saturday vs. the Cubs. He was slated to long toss at a distance of 120 feet later Monday to test his arm.

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He was not concerned the injury would affect his chance of making the team out of Spring Training. The Reds are looking for him to take a middle-relief or swing role with the capability of the occasional start.

"I think it's still early," he said. "Of course I want to be out there to build off of my first outing. I definitely want to give myself better chances to break in with the team."

Sampson gave the Reds one scoreless inning with one hit and three strikeouts in his lone spring outing, March 2 vs. the Indians. Last season, he was one of nine rookies to start games for Cincinnati, and he often took some lumps. In 13 games, including 12 starts, he was 2-6 with a 6.54 ERA. In 52 1/3 innings, he allowed 67 hits and 26 walks with 42 strikeouts.

After being called up July 30 from Triple-A Louisville, Sampson showed some decreased velocity. He had been in the 95-96 mph range but was closer to 93 mph with the Reds, according Pitch-f/x data from BrooksBaseball.net. His four-seam fastball was particularly hittable. In September, hitters had a .429 average when seeing the four-seamer.

"My velo is getting back up there. Velo-wise and discomfort-wise, I couldn't really snap off my breaking balls and couldn't get through my slider," Sampson said. "I couldn't get that extension out in front of me. Balls were cutting. Now I'm back to my true self with four-seam fastballs staying straight with a little rise on it."

More notes from Monday:

Eugenio Suarez is off to a nice start at the plate this spring, but also has transitioned well defensively at third base. Suarez is taking over the position from the traded Todd Frazier.

"He's been comfortable to both sides -- backhand and glove side," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He's thrown accurately with a strong arm and a good carry. I've been really pleased with how hard he's working at it, the commitment he's made, the attitude he's had towards making the transition. I think he's done a terrific job."

Raisel Iglesias is scheduled to throw to Reds hitters for the first time this spring Tuesday. Iglesias, who started camp behind after a special offseason shoulder conditioning program, will throw between 20 and 25 pitches.

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.