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Suarez returns from fractured thumb

Reds option Pennington, Ervin; utility man Herrera called up
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- When Eugenio Suarez was hit by a pitch on April 8 in Pittsburgh and fractured his right thumb, the Reds third baseman did not initially believe he would get back fast.

Instead of just getting back fast, Suarez returned very fast. He was activated from the 10-day disabled list on Thursday and in the starting lineup vs. the Braves. Suarez was 0-for-4 at the plate in his return but made a nice defensive play in the fourth inning. It was a diving stop to his right and throw from his knee that robbed Kurt Suzuki of a hit.

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CINCINNATI -- When Eugenio Suarez was hit by a pitch on April 8 in Pittsburgh and fractured his right thumb, the Reds third baseman did not initially believe he would get back fast.

Instead of just getting back fast, Suarez returned very fast. He was activated from the 10-day disabled list on Thursday and in the starting lineup vs. the Braves. Suarez was 0-for-4 at the plate in his return but made a nice defensive play in the fourth inning. It was a diving stop to his right and throw from his knee that robbed Kurt Suzuki of a hit.

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"I feel so excited to be back this quick," Suarez said. "I feel great right now, a little bit nervous. I think that's normal. It will be all right. I feel good. My thumb has no pain at all. That's why I'm here today."

In other moves, the Reds selected the contract of utility player Rosell Herrera from Triple-A Louisville. To make room on the 25-man roster outfielder Phillip Ervin and infielder Cliff Pennington were optioned to Louisville.

Although the Reds lineup has scored more runs -- 23 -- in its first three games vs. Atlanta, the return of Suarez to the lineup was sorely needed. The club entered the day batting .231, was last in the Majors in home runs and 13th in the National League in runs scored.

Suarez was batting .296/.424/.630 with two home runs and seven RBIs in eight games before going on the DL. He had a homer and five RBIs on April 7, the day before getting hit on the hand by a Jameson Taillon pitch.

"It was an injury that could have gone longer to get him back, but he's fine to go," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "So, we made the move to get him on the roster."

In two rehab assignment games with Louisville, Suarez was 1-for-5 with a double.

"Just a little bit off on my timing, but I will get over it real quick," Suarez said. "All of my at-bats felt good. I was swinging hard like I can do. My thumb feels really good with no pain at all."

Pennington, along with Phil Gosselin and Alex Blandino, filled in at third base while Suarez was out. The 33-year-old Pennington, who was signed during Spring Training, batted .138/.265/.138 in 16 games. While playing eight games at third base and five at shortstop, his defensive range lacked compared to Suarez and Jose Peraza. Pennington was also needed to pitch an inning of an April 12 blowout loss to the Cardinals.

Ervin, 25, hit .211/.318/.237 with one double and three RBIs in 16 games for Cincinnati after he earned an Opening Day roster spot. But he demonstrated some shaky defense, especially in right field while he filled in for an injured Scott Schebler.

"Once Schebler came back, Ervin kind of became the fifth outfielder," Riggleman said. "We need him playing. He's got to go down there and get some at-bats."

Video: LAA@CIN: Herrera clears the bases with a triple

Herrera gets first call-up
Herrera, 25, wasn't expecting his first big league promotion Wednesday night.

"I was playing PS4 last night around 10:30 p.m., and I got a phone call," Herrera said via translator Julio Morillo. "It was the trainer in Triple-A. He told me, 'You've got a call up to the big leagues, congratulations.' After that, it was an amazing feeling."

Herrera was playing the perfect video game for the occasion when his phone rang. It was "MLB: The Show."

For his Major League debut, Herrera grounded out to second base as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning.

Herrera spent his entire professional career with the Rockies organization after signing as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2010. In November, the Reds signed him to a Minor League contract and invited him to Spring Training. Herrera's contract selection gives the Reds a full 40-man roster.

During 23 games in camp, Herrera often impressed with his versatility while batting .267 with two homers. In 15 games with Louisville, he batted .311/.373/.607 with three home runs and 10 RBIs.

Herrera has already played six positions this season -- all three outfield spots plus third base, second base and shortstop.

"A tall, rangy kid that can run," Riggleman said. "He swings it from both sides of the plate. Primarily he's been playing the outfield the last few years but signed as an infielder. He's played all around. It gives us a little more versatility and some real athleticism there."

Hernandez close
Reliever David Hernandez made his third appearance in his rehab assignment with Louisville on Wednesday and threw 15 pitches over a scoreless inning. Hernandez gave up one hit and struck out one.

Hernandez was in the Reds' clubhouse on Thursday, but not activated from the disabled list. He's been out since March with right shoulder inflammation.

"He's still on the rehab schedule. But he's real close," Riggleman said.

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.

Cincinnati Reds, Phillip Ervin, Rosell Herrera, Cliff Pennington, Eugenio Suarez