But his travels down the long road to recovery from a right groin strain suffered during Spring Training appear to be drawing to a close.
Hancock made his final rehab appearance for Triple-A Louisville on Monday night, though it was a rough one, to say the least. He had compiled a 1.99 ERA in four previous starts for the Bats on this rehab stint, but he gave up 10 runs, six of which were earned, on nine hits with a walk and two strikeouts in just two innings of work against Scranton on Monday.
Though Hancock has exhausted his 20 days of rehab eligibility, the Reds don't have to immediately make a decision on whether to add him to the big-league roster.
"Basically, we'll allow him to recover from [Monday's] outing, which puts us toward the end of this week," O'Brien said. "At that time, we'll make a decision."
For all intents and purposes, the decision to add Hancock to the 25-man roster has already been made, though.
"In light of what he did in the second half of last year and how he proved himself as an asset to the pitching staff, we'll see him at the Major League level in some role," O'Brien said.
What's not certain is what that role would be. Hancock, who went 5-1 with a 4.45 ERA in 12 appearances, including nine starts, after joining the Reds in the July 30 trade that sent Todd Jones to the Phillies, could join the rotation or join the bullpen in long relief.
"I have talked with [manager] Jerry [Narron] and [pitching coach] Vern [Ruhle], but there's been no definitive conclusion," O'Brien said.
Whatever the role, it's a certainty that Hancock will be happy to be back, with his odyssey behind him.
"He's getting pretty excited," O'Brien said.
O'Brien was asked if he's been reading the Chicago Sun-Times
"No," he said with a big laugh. "But everyone else is educating me."
The newspaper again reported in its Monday editions that the White Sox might be interested in trading for Ken Griffey Jr., especially now that outfielder Scott Podsednik has landed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left abductor.
As is his policy, O'Brien declined to comment on any trade possibilities involving specific players. But he did downplay the reports, once again.
"Nothing has changed," he said. "Nothing."
O'Brien has already denied reports in the Sun-Times
and USA Today Sports Weekly
that the two clubs had a deal for Griffey worked out just before the July 31 trading deadline, with owner Carl Lindner nixing the trade at the last minute.
When pressed about the rumors for the umpteenth time by the umpteenth reporter Monday afternoon, Griffey gave his usual shrug toward the situation.
"I don't know anything," he said. "Y'all know more than me."
Los Rojos en la radio:
Javier Valentin was asked if he thought the Spanish-language broadcasts of Tuesday's and Wednesday's games against the Giants might help the Reds reach out to Cincinnati's Hispanic community.
"Do we have a Hispanic community?" Valentin said with a smile.
WSAI 1360-AM intends to find out. The station will become the first in Cincinnati to air coverage of a Reds game in Spanish.
While Marty Brennaman and Steve Stewart are handling the regular duties on WLW 700, Francisco Romero and former big-leaguer Gil Heredia will do the Spanish-language version for WSAI. The broadcasts can also be heard via reds.com for MLB.com Gameday Audio subscribers.
"It's good, because it's a chance to get Latino people to understand the game better," Valentin said.
Narron said he still plans on having Wily Mo Pena available to start Wednesday against the Giants. Pena sprained his left wrist while checking his swing last Wednesday in Chicago and has been available only for pinch-hit duties ever since. ... The Reds' 19-10 record since the All-Star break is the third best in baseball. ... The Reds entered Monday's game with eight straight quality starts under their belt. The club has not produced more than eight straight quality starts since notching 10 in a row from June 28-July 7, 1994.
Down on the farm:
Left-hander Ben Kozlowski (1-2) had a rough day for Louisville on Sunday, giving up seven runs on six hits over 4 1/3 innings in a 9-6 loss to Durham. ... Left-hander Phil Dumatrait (4-11) threw six no-hit innings in Double-A Chattanooga's 11-0 win over Mississippi. ... Class A Sarasota beat Clearwater by a 14-10 count thanks to six home runs. Mark Schramek, Kyle Smith, Hector Tiburcio, Joey Votto, Ben Himes and Rafael Matooka each hit one.
The Reds continue their four-game set against the Giants with Tuesday's 7:10 p.m. ET game at Great American Ball Park. Left-hander Eric Milton (6-12, 6.48 ERA) will face right-hander Jason Schmidt (9-6, 4.29).