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Price defends handling of Mesoraco

On DL with hip issue, Reds catcher tries left field in rehab stint before being shut down

DETROIT -- Bryan Price knows Devin Mesoraco's attempts to play through an injury can be a "divisive" subject, but the Reds manager maintains the organization has acted properly while dealing with the catcher's left hip impingement.

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Mesoraco was placed on the 15-day disabled list May 25. Unable to catch, he agreed to play left field and began a rehab stint at the position, but was shut down after three games. On Sunday, Triple-A Louisville manager Delino DeShields told the Courier-Journal that Mesoraco "never looked healthy," prompting a new wave of criticism about how the Reds have handled the 26-year-old's health.

"I think it would have been much more irresponsible to our team and to our fans and our ownership if we had just immediately gone to surgery without checking to see if there was a way that Devin could potentially play the outfield and be a useable piece on this team into the summer," Price said. "And that's what we've done."

Price added Mesoraco had been "completely on board" with playing, and that the catcher volunteered to play in the outfield when Marlon Byrd fractured his wrist June 2.

Video: Mesoraco discusses injury and playing outfield

"We covered all of our bases," Price said. "He was having no issues at all with his hip through all the practices that we did. … We did everything that we could do, from running and batting and doing outfield play and could not create an environment where his hip was an issue. When he was ready to go, we sent him to Triple-A to play. After three games, [we] realized that his hip was not up to the challenge of playing the outfield three successive days. That's where we are right now."

Mesoraco was unable to catch after April 12, but played in 17 games with the Reds as a pinch-hitter or, during Interleague contests, at designated hitter. He batted .178 with just two extra-base hits before being placed on the DL, but was coming off a breakout 2014 campaign, when he hit .273 with 25 home runs.

Price had previously said a decision on Mesoraco won't be made before the Reds return to Cincinnati on Wednesday, and the manager added Monday that the club will act in a manner that ensures the catcher will be ready for next season.

"Had we just invested immediately into surgery [in early April], which would have ended his season, and then it came out where someone said, 'You know, Devin might have been able to go out and play the outfield and be a viable participant for the team,' that to me would have been reckless," Price said.

"Right now, he's not in any jeopardy of not being ready to play on Opening Day next season and we haven't even yet committed to what route we're going to take. If he does need surgery, that surgery, from a timetable perspective, we're not compromising his ability to be ready for Opening Day 2016."

Alejandro Zúñiga is an associate reporter for Follow him on Twitter @ByAZuniga.
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