CINCINNATI -- The sample size is small but Amir Garrett has been effective from the Reds' bullpen, and the left-hander has only continued the solid performances he had during Spring Training.
After posting a 3.18 ERA in six spring games, Garrett has thrown 2 2/3 scoreless innings in two relief appearances during the regular season. He pitched 1 2/3 innings with one hit allowed and two strikeouts in Thursday's 5-2 loss to the Pirates.
"He's aggressive. He's doing exactly what he did in Spring Training, that's attacking the zone and coming after the hitters with his best stuff," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He's varying his times to the plate, he's offsetting the timing of the hitters with his slide step and his regular delivery, and he's been able to get that slider over also, which has really helped."
The slide step is a tool for pitchers to speed up their delivery, especially with runners on base. But Garrett also has been doing it with the bases empty. He began working on it during the offseason after he recovered from a right hip injury that required stem cell, platelet-rich plasma injections and rehab to correct.
"I thought I would have to make an adjustment for my hip. I don't really need it, but it feels good doing it," Garrett said. "It throws off the hitters' timing a lot. If I can do that a couple of times, and then they see my regular leg kick if I go to that, it's a good weapon for me to have.
"This game is changing. People are doing stuff in the windups, and the stretch and everything. People are finding new tricks. I'm just trying to trick the hitter."
Garrett, 25, has also been able to keep the ball down. According to charts on BrooksBaseball.net, all 38 pitches he's thrown have been in the middle-to-lower quadrants around the plate.
"That's where I excel. Basically, I try to keep it down," Garrett said. "I try to work over the middle a lot. I don't really care about inside or out. Up and down. My best thing is throw the ball right down the middle and then it moves. That's my game plan."
Schebler still hurting
Reds right fielder Scott Schebler has been out of the lineup since being hit by a pitch on the right elbow Sunday vs. the Nationals. According to Price, Schebler still feels soreness in the ulnar nerve around the elbow.
"It seemed like something that in a couple of days would be fine and it wasn't," Price said. "It didn't recover as quickly as I'd hoped and I'm sure Scott had hoped."
Schebler was able to take batting practice on Thursday and Friday.
"I just kept thinking the rest and rehab would take care of the problem," Schebler said. "The issue has been that he's had the inflammation go over the ulnar nerve, so as far as grip strength and things of that nature, it's been a challenge."
Bullpen session soon for Hernandez
Reliever David Hernandez, currently on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, successfully played catch on Friday and remains pain free after a few days of throwing on the field. The next step for Hernandez is a bullpen session, which is slated for Sunday.
"So far, so good," Hernandez said after throwing. "I'll know for sure where I stand in the bullpen on Sunday and how I feel after that."