Mesoraco progressing, taking it slow early in camp

Mesoraco progressing, taking it slow early in camp

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Through a week of workouts, catching bullpens and taking batting practice, all seems to be progressing with Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco. The plan is to bring Mesoraco along slowly, and that is working well.

In May 2016, Mesoraco had an operation to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, then underwent a labrum surgery in July on his right hip. Back in June 2015, the labrum in his left hip was repaired.

"It's a longer spring, so there's no impetus to turn up the speed of the rehab," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Tuesday. "Right now, it's really durability and stamina we're working on. So his workload, you may not see it initially with the game work. You'll see him catching more bullpens, hitting for a longer duration. Yesterday, he hit early, and then he tracked pitches in the live batting practice group."

Mesoraco on return from injury

The initial plan for the early season is for Mesoraco to catch 50-60 percent of games in tandem with Tucker Barnhart. Mesoraco, a 2014 All-Star, has caught 19 games over the past two seasons because of injuries.

"We're trying to avoid the too much, too soon issue," Price said. "We'll just stay with the plan we have set for him, and that's to incrementally increase his workload until he's ready for games. We'll do the same thing when I meter out the innings for him."

Worth noting

• On Monday, the Reds held their first live batting practice session with their pitchers facing the hitters. A few of the young pitchers stood out, as Price roamed the practice fields to watch.

"I wasn't disappointed with anybody," Price said. "Rookie Davis had a nice day, as well as Amir [Garrett]. I'm bouncing back and forth, so I'm catching three, four and maybe five minutes per pitcher if I was lucky."

• Two other pitchers Price noticed were relievers Barrett Astin and Kevin Shackelford. Both were acquired in an Aug. 31, 2014, trade that sent veteran reliever Jonathan Broxton to the Brewers.

Astin is on the 40-man roster, and posted a 2.26 ERA last season at Double-A Pensacola. Shackelford, a non-roster invite, had a 2.03 ERA last season in 35 games between Pensacola and Triple-A Louisville.

"We weren't pulling out of their Top 20 Prospects list, really, when we made that deal," Price said. "Last year, with both Shackleford and Astin throwing the ball so well, I think it really kind of highlighted that these are the two guys we got in the trade for Jonathan back in '14, which was such a painful deal to make at the time. It's nice to see that it looks like we've gotten a nice return."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for 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.