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Mesoraco back behind plate for 2017 debut

Manager Price thinks catcher will give team a nice boost
Special to MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- Devin Mesoraco is glad to be back with the Reds, and thanks to manager Bryan Price's decision to put him in the lineup Friday night, he won't have to wait long to make his official return.

"This is where I wanted to be," the veteran catcher said prior to Friday's game against the Cardinals. "I obviously haven't been in the clubhouse and hanging around the guys a whole lot the past couple years, and unfortunately haven't gotten to know a lot of these young guys, the pitchers and some of the other young position players. But that's something I definitely look forward to."

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ST. LOUIS -- Devin Mesoraco is glad to be back with the Reds, and thanks to manager Bryan Price's decision to put him in the lineup Friday night, he won't have to wait long to make his official return.

"This is where I wanted to be," the veteran catcher said prior to Friday's game against the Cardinals. "I obviously haven't been in the clubhouse and hanging around the guys a whole lot the past couple years, and unfortunately haven't gotten to know a lot of these young guys, the pitchers and some of the other young position players. But that's something I definitely look forward to."

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Limited to 95 at-bats in just 39 games the past two seasons -- he had right hip and left shoulder surgeries last year and left hip surgery in 2015 -- Mesoraco joined the Reds on Friday in St. Louis following his rehab assignment. He went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored in the Reds' 7-5 loss.

"No concerns health-wise," Mesoraco said. "Everything is right where we hoped it would be. Just anxious to get back on the field."

Price is glad to have his catcher back.

"In 2014, he's an All-Star, drives in 80 runs, hits 25 homers, does a great job behind the plate," Price said. "In '15 and '16, it wasn't just injuries -- it was significant injuries. I think over the last two full seasons, he had less than 100 at bats between the two. It's been a while.

"I think we paid due diligence to make sure he got a chance to go down and play a lot of games in Double-A, get a lot of at-bats in the second half of spring training, a lot of time behind the plate, just to knock off the rust and to start to feel good about what he's doing behind the plate and at the plate. I think he's ready to go, and I think he'll give us a nice boost."

In 13 games with Double-A Pensacola, Mesoraco batted .170 (eight hits in 47 at bats) with a .291 on-base percentage and .255 slugging percentage. He had one double, one homer, three RBIs and four runs scored.

"There were certainly some times where I would have liked to play better or didn't quite feel as good as I would have hoped," said Mesoraco, who kept in contact with Reds hitting coach Don Long during his time in the minors. "I talked to Don a lot throughout the whole process, and we were just trying to get better, trying to get things closer to where they need to be, and toward the end, I felt like we definitely got there."

Injury updates

Video: Reds right-hander undergoes arthroscopic procedure

Homer Bailey, who is recovering from right elbow surgery, is scheduled to throw his first bullpen session Tuesday, Price said.

The manager said Anthony DeSclafani, who is out with a UCL sprain in his right elbow, was checked out by team doctor Timothy Kremchek on Friday, but the news wasn't encouraging.

"It hasn't healed enough to initiate his throwing program, so it's still gonna be probably at least a couple weeks before they test him again to see if he's ready to start throwing," Price said. "So I was disappointed."

Meanwhile, Brandon Finnegan, who has been dealing with a left shoulder strain, is not having any soreness, the manager said.

"I think it's going to be three weeks of no throwing before he initiates a throwing program," he said. "I think that's an absolute. Whenever that back date is from his last outing, three weeks from that point he'll be checked again, and if everything goes OK, we can initiate a throwing program."

Nate Latsch is a contributor to MLB.com, based in St. Louis.

Cincinnati Reds, Devin Mesoraco