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Cingrani provides solid relief work after long layoff

CINCINNATI -- For the first time in nearly two weeks, Reds reliever Tony Cingrani emerged from the bullpen and took the mound on Sunday. During a 5-2 loss to the Cubs, Cingrani was effective with two perfect innings and two strikeouts.

The last time Cingrani had pitched was April 14, also vs. the Cubs, and that was just one-third of an inning. Prior to that, he threw two scoreless innings on April 12 vs. the Cardinals.

"I've just been hanging out for a little while," said Cingrani, who had warmed up a few times over the last two weeks without getting into a game. "Everything feels good. I was obviously refreshed."

Cingrani was expected to start the season in the rotation but broke camp as the lefty long reliever. So far, he has only four games of work. The Reds' bullpen is ranked last in the Major Leagues in ERA, and veterans like Kevin Gregg and Burke Badenhop are struggling.

Manager Bryan Price said before Saturday's rainout vs. the Cubs that he would seek ways to use Cingrani more and worry less about keeping him fresh for long-relief work.

The chance came in the seventh inning when Cingrani retired the side in order with two strikeouts. In the eighth, he got a flyout from Anthony Rizzo and two groundouts. Of his 28 pitches thrown, 21 were fastballs -- including 20 that were 92 mph or harder.

"I like one inning, two innings. I'm good at that. It's pretty easy," Cingrani said. "Just go out there and throw as hard as you can."

Price noted that fellow lefty Manny Parra was unavailable for the game, so it made Cingrani's need for two innings more necessary. He might have earned more chances in higher-leverage situations.

"Tony left it right there and I think gave us a vision of some of the things he can do to help us out of the bullpen," Price said. "I needed him for two innings today. We'll see where he is [Monday]. You're certainly going to run with the guys throwing the ball the best."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon.
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