MILWAUKEE -- The Reds hoped to give Robert Stephenson a few more days on the disabled list to work on his mechanics through bullpen sessions before he was activated and returned to the rotation, but an injury to Austin Brice left Cincinnati shorthanded for long relievers and changed plans.
Brice was placed on the 10-day disabled list before Sunday's finale against the Brewers with a right lat strain, and Stephenson was activated to come out of the bullpen.
"He's here, and we're getting ready to get him slotted back into the rotation, but we need him today," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "We'll see where he slots in best following this. We were making some good headway in the bullpen trying to get his delivery in sync. Really, we had hoped to get him to that place before he was re-inserted into the rotation, but at this point, it's on a need-be basis."
Stephenson was needed during the Reds' 7-4 loss to Milwaukee on Sunday. He threw two scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth with a walk and hit batter while striking out three.
Brice has a 4.96 ERA in 22 appearances over multiple stints this season with the Reds, but he had four scoreless and hitless innings over three appearances during his latest spell with a walk and five strikeouts.
During the Reds' 6-5 loss in 10 innings to the Brewers on Saturday, Brice tossed a perfect seventh inning, but he wasn't feeling his best on the mound.
"I felt great coming out of the bullpen, I felt good getting on the mound. I threw my last pitch for the catcher to throw it down, and I just felt a ball in my lat," Brice said. "I had two things going through my mind: I can either shut it down right here or just kind of see where the first batter goes. I was still throwing strikes, and the stuff was still coming out good. I said, 'The heck with it, I might as well try to give the team a good inning.' I just went ahead and went through with it. I didn't feel any pain. A lot of tightness."
Brice returned to Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon and will get a MRI on Monday.
"When we were made aware of it, it was pretty easy just to take him out of the game," Price said. "It didn't seem to appear to affect his stuff or his command or anything else."
Duvall's pinpoint arm
In the third inning of Saturday's loss, Reds left fielder Adam Duvall fielded a Domingo Santana two-out single and saw Eric Thames trying to score from second base. He made a perfect throw to the plate and nailed Thames, who was out after a collision with catcher Devin Mesoraco.
It was Duvall's 10th assist of the season, which ties him with teammate Billy Hamilton and Seattle's Jarrod Dyson as the Major League leaders in outfield assists.
"I know, it's incredible. I don't know if it's a phenomenon, but the consistency is what I've been so impressed with," Price said. "Adam knows he has arm strength, but he gets to the ball in a hurry and he gets rid of it in a hurry, and he's typically very accurate."
The Reds have 30 outfield assists as a team, which leads the Majors.
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.