Timetable for Mesoraco's return pushed back

Reds catcher slows down after feeling normal tightness in groin, hip flexor

March 5th, 2016
Devin Mesoraco expects to be in the Reds' lineup within seven to 10 days. (AP)Ross D. Franklin/AP

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The anticipated spring debut for catcher Devin Mesoraco will be delayed because of a minor groin injury. Mesoraco, who is working his way back from left hip surgery last year, was originally slated to get into the lineup for the first time in a couple of days.

"I would say we've slowed things down a little bit. It's not anything alarming," Mesoraco said on Saturday morning. "It's a little bit slower just to give me a little more time to do everything a little more. I would say within the next seven to 10 days, I will be out there."

Mesoraco was limited to 23 games last season, including nine starts behind the plate, because of what was originally a left hip impingement. He needed season-ending surgery on June 29 to repair a torn labrum in that hip.

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Throughout the rehabilitation process, everything had gone smoothly and Mesoraco had encountered no setbacks. But he also knew his body would be tested by the increased workload once camp started last month.

"We had a very small minimal amount of groin and hip flexor tightness, soreness," said Mesoraco, a 2014 National League All-Star. "The doctor kind of said this was something that would probably happen once I got back into it. We just slowed things down but everything is feeling fine. I feel good now. It shouldn't be too much longer."

Mesoraco, 27, has been able to hit and catch on the side and resumed participating in drills.

"There isn't anything that is putting any extra pressure on it. There's nothing that I can't do," he said. "I think it was an accumulation of things, as far as the volume. It put a small bit of tightness in my groin, but nothing major. All the movements are fine. Everything is feeling normal."

Mesoraco had been eager to begin playing in games, especially after he missed most of the 2015 season.

"It stinks. I'm sick of sitting on the bench watching the guys," said Mesoraco, who hit a career-high 25 home runs in '14. "I just want to be playing. But it's more important to be ready for April when the first [regular season] game is. We're backing up a little bit but I still should have plenty of time to get ready."

Mesoraco is one of several veteran Reds trying to return from a surgery. Center fielder Billy Hamilton was scratched from the lineup on Friday because of stiffness in his surgically repaired right shoulder. Zack Cozart, who had reconstructive right knee surgery in June, is believed to be close to getting into games. Homer Bailey, who is rehabilitating from Tommy John surgery last May, is on target to return sometime this May.

The Reds have a lot of new pitchers in camp, including younger prospects challenging for roster spots. Many of them have not worked with Mesoraco in the bullpen or games.

Mesoraco wasn't concerned about getting to know his pitchers.

"I can do more on the video than I can in the bullpen," Mesoraco said. "I can see all I need to see out there, still talk with them, still be part of the conversations. I don't really think that's a problem at all. We'll certainly be on the same page once I get out there."