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Reds hope ailing Pena can return to catch Cueto

CINCINNATI -- Reds manager Bryan Price hopes that Brayan Pena will be able to take his regular turn behind the plate with Johnny Cueto on the mound in Sunday's finale of a three-game series against the Marlins at Great American Ball Park.

Pena's status remains up in the air after he left Friday's game before the third inning when a tight left hamstring that had been bothering him grew a little tighter. The catcher-first baseman was not in Saturday's starting lineup.

"It necessitated a little extra TLC," Price said before Saturday's game. "We're still hoping that he'll be able to catch tomorrow, but we'll have to wait and see what kind of progress he makes. He'll go out there and hit and do all that stuff."

Trainers have been applying ice and ultrasound, said Pena, who normally catches Cueto.

"I've been getting a lot of treatment and being very aggressive with it, so hopefully I can get in the game tomorrow or today if needed," Pena said. "It's much better."

Losing Pena leaves big holes in both the batting order and in the field. Friday's start was his 28th at first base after basically emerging from a tryout camp that included third baseman Todd Frazier, outfielder Roger Bernardina and right fielder Jay Bruce in the wake of Joey Votto's ongoing knee problems that sent him back to the disabled list on July 8.

Pena had made just four career appearances at first base, none of them starts, before this season, but he'd played the position as if he'd spent his life there, making just one error while handling the ball 257 times.

The person who appreciates Pena's quick adjustment as much as the pitchers is Price.

"He's way better than I anticipated," he said. "It's been a huge boost for us with Joey out. He saved our bacon, for sure."

Pena's just having fun, as he does with almost everything.

"It's been kind of a wild ride for me out there, but it's been a lot of fun," said the switch-hitter, who matched his career high by extending his hitting streak to 12 games before being lifted on Friday. "The healthier I get, the better it is for everyone, especially with the opportunity the skipper has given me. I don't want to let anybody down. I want to take advantage of the opportunity."

"When I play PlayStation games, I put Joey Votto at designated hitter and I play myself at first and Devin [Mesoraco] is catching," Pena added with a smile. "It's fun. It's been great. I hope I can continue to do that."

Mark Schmetzer is a contributor to
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