CINCINNATI -- With the team back home, injured Reds outfielder Shogo Akiyama returned for a few days from the alternate training site and worked out with his teammates on the field.
Akiyama, who opened the season on the 10-day injured list because of a left hamstring strain suffered during a March 13 Cactus League game, could be playing in scrimmages soon.
“He knows he's getting close -- he's getting excited,” Reds manager David Bell said. “By this time next week, maybe next Saturday, actually, he may be playing in a game. He has a little bit of a ways to go between now and Saturday. I think he's about 85 or so percent. ... But if everything goes well, he should be starting that part of the progression and be on track for the early part of May.”
On Friday, his 33rd birthday, Akiyama took fly balls in center field and hit in batting practice, and he continued to feel good about his progress.
“There’s much less things that I can’t do now,” Akiyama said Saturday via translator Luke Shinoda. “Definitely slow-playing it right now. I talk with the trainers, and I might be at the point where if the season were to end today, I would be playing a game. That’s where I’m at right now.”
During batting practice, Akiyama hit a homer and was hanging out on the field with teammate Joey Votto.
“Definitely, there is a bond there,” Akiyama said. “Being the first Japanese [Reds] player as well, he does teach me a lot of things of how to get around the team and everything within the organization. Also, he keeps telling me, ‘I want you to come back.’ That really makes me happy. The experience overall is great being with him. I know that you [mentioned] my home run during practice because it’s a rare occasion, but I hope to hit more home runs.”
When Akiyama arrived in the clubhouse on Friday, shortstop Eugenio Suárez sang “Happy Birthday.”
“Everyone else came up to me and asked how old I was. I told them mentally, I’m 20, but physically, I’m 33,” Akiyama said.
Bedrosian out as Gray returns
To make room for Saturday’s starting pitcher, Sonny Gray, after his activation from the 10-day IL, reliever Cam Bedrosian was designated for assignment by the Reds.
Bedrosian earned a roster spot in spring with a strong camp but had an 11.12 ERA in six regular season appearances with 10 hits, six walks and two homers allowed in 5 2/3 innings. During the ninth inning of Friday’s 10-3 win over Cleveland, the right-hander gave up two runs, including a first-pitch homer to his first batter.
“He made the team and all that for a reason. We know he can pitch,” Bell said. “It was just a move that we had to make today. I think he's getting closer. The results haven't been there, but it's so early and not a huge opportunity. I do think he's getting close. It's unfortunate for him and us. We really liked having him on the team. Now he'll have to go through the process, and I hope it works out for him.”
Aquino plans to stay fit
On the heels of surgery to remove the hook of the fractured hamate bone in his left hand, outfielder Aristides Aquino will try to stay busy and in shape.
“I want to do everything that’s possible, as close to a normal workout that I can beside the hand, so I can just be ready,” Aquino said Saturday via translator Jorge Merlos. “Once that hand is ready to go, I’m ready to go as well.”
Despite playing sparingly -- 14 plate appearances in 10 games -- Aquino was batting .231 but with a 1.055 OPS and two home runs. While disappointed about the timing of the injury as he was starting to feel good at the plate, he took the news in stride.
“I mean, it’s something out of my control. It’s just a part of something that happens,” Aquino said. “I’m just going to put myself forward, learn from the experience and tell myself that you’ll still be a better player regardless of what happens. Just move forward and continue battling.”
Blandino placed on IL
The Reds placed utility player Alex Blandino on the injured list Saturday without listing the injury or a timetable for his return.
Blandino is 3-for-9 in nine games this season and was 0-for-1 in Friday’s game. He entered as a defensive replacement at first base in the seventh inning and moved to left field for the eighth.
Outfielder Mark Payton was recalled from the alternate site in Louisville. Payton appeared in eight games for the Reds in 2020 and batted .167. This is his first promotion in 2021.