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Reds to focus on building up Harvey's innings

Right-hander threw four scoreless frames in debut with club Friday
Special to MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- The Reds will help Matt Harvey assimilate into the rotation by focusing more on innings and less on pitch count.

In his Reds debut Friday, Harvey went four innings against the Dodgers and gave up just one gift hit, when Cody Bellinger's towering fly ball was lost in the evening sky by right fielder Scott Schebler.

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LOS ANGELES -- The Reds will help Matt Harvey assimilate into the rotation by focusing more on innings and less on pitch count.

In his Reds debut Friday, Harvey went four innings against the Dodgers and gave up just one gift hit, when Cody Bellinger's towering fly ball was lost in the evening sky by right fielder Scott Schebler.

View Full Game Coverage

Harvey threw 55 pitches Saturday, his most since throwing 96 on April 19 against the Braves, while pitching for the Mets. But it is the start-stop flow pitchers contend with that has more of interim manager Jim Riggleman's focus.

"He certainly will have less limitations after having a side session with [pitching coach] Danny Darwin," Riggleman said before Saturday's game. "It's not so much the number of pitches, it's coming in, sitting down, going back out, sitting down, going back out."

Riggleman did not detail the plan beyond that, but he sounded as if he will try for five innings in Harvey's next start and six innings in the one after that. At that point, Harvey figures to be free of any constraints, relatively speaking.

But the Reds' manager admits that the team is not always free to make the call.

"Sometimes the other club decides how far you can go," Riggleman said.

Video: CIN@LAD: Harvey K's Taylor to notch first K as a Red

Harvey opened the season in the Mets' rotation and went 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA and an opponents' .849 OPS in four starts. He made four more relief appearances, starting with an April 24 game, throwing just six innings combined in those outings.

Harvey last pitched on May 3 with the Mets, giving up five runs on three hits and three walks in two innings against the Braves. He was designated for assignment by the club after declining to go to the Minor Leagues, then was traded to the Reds on Tuesday for Devin Mesoraco.

Going 22 days between starts and eight days between appearances hardly looked as challenging as Harvey admitted that it was.

"The long layoff was definitely a little different from what I'm used to, but it was good to get on a five-day rotation … or at least kind of feel that way," Harvey said after his start Friday. "At least, I treated it that way. I knew I was going to possibly start this weekend, so I was getting back to that routine. It was good. It was fun."

It also appeared to jump-start Cincinnati. The Reds not only added a rotation piece, they also entered Saturday's game in Los Angeles on a four-game win streak, making it easily the most eventful week of the season so far.

The Reds had not won more than two consecutive games before the four-game win streak.

"I think it's a nice spark for the club," Riggleman said. "The record [being] what it is, nobody's happy about that. But you [acquire] somebody, it does show that we're trying, we're not cashing it in. The front office, the players, everybody is trying to get it better."

Doug Padilla is a contributor to MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

Cincinnati Reds, Matt Harvey