Reliever Smith to make spot start for Reds

Reliever Smith to make spot start for Reds

CHICAGO -- Because of injuries, a doubleheader on Saturday and some short starts from the rotation recently, the Reds find themselves a little shorthanded for starting pitchers. For Tuesday's game, they are turning to the bullpen and reliever Josh Smith in a spot start vs. the Cubs and Jon Lester.

It will be Smith's first start of the season after 29 relief appearances. Although manager Bryan Price will let the right-hander go as long as he can, it could amount to being a bullpen day to fill the innings.

"We'll keep a mind's eye on him, simply because he hasn't been a starter for a while," Price said on Monday. "I don't expect him to finish the game, but he'll certainly be the one starting it."

Smith threw 62 pitches over 3 2/3 innings with one run allowed in Saturday's 7-3 loss in Game 2 of a doubleheader vs. the Pirates. Originally expected to get the start on Tuesday, Keyvius Sampson was needed in Game 1 that day and threw 54 pitches over 1 2/3 innings.

"He didn't bounce back as well as Smitty did after those long outings the other day," Price said of Sampson. "I think we've got the ability to get more out of Smitty than we do out of Keyvius. It just made it a simpler decision. I didn't want to go out there and have a guy go into the second [inning]. I feel comfortable with him pitching into the game somewhat."

Smith has a 4.97 ERA this season and four appearances lasting three or more innings. Last season, he made seven starts (nine games overall) and was 0-4 with a 6.82 ERA, 38 hits, 21 walks and 27 strikeouts over 30 1/3 innings.

"The biggest thing last year was walking guys, which is something I usually don't do," Smith said. "This year I've been able to come in and really attack guys with all of my pitches for strikes. I will take that same approach for tomorrow."

Smith was looking forward to getting a chance to start, and naturally hopes it could lead to more chances.

"It's a good opportunity," he said. "I enjoy starting. It's what I was used to until this year. Now I will just get back into that routine, go back tomorrow, challenge those guys. It will be fun."

Injury report:

• Shortstop Zack Cozart remained in Cincinnati to continue rehab for his sore right knee. Cozart hasn't played since Sept. 10, but the club hasn't given up on him returning. The Reds will reassess in the coming days.

"We haven't put the kibosh on his season. But we're certainly not going to rush him through the rehab process," Price said. "Right now, it doesn't seem like he's getting markedly better."

• Pitcher Homer Bailey (right biceps tenderness) will throw a third bullpen session on Wednesday at Wrigley Field. Encouraged that Bailey is feeling better, the Reds are hopeful he could possibly make one or two starts before the season ends -- if he comes through the next mound session without problems.

• Rookie pitcher Cody Reed (lower back spasms) will not pitch again in 2016. Reed had been throwing on the side but hasn't pitched in a game since Aug. 29 for Triple-A Louisville.

"He's just too far away removed from pitching now," Price said. "That's one that feels like, by now, we'd be forcing that to happen. We don't want to do that."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. 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.