LOS ANGELES -- It's become a legitimate question: Will Aaron Harang return to the Reds' rotation at all this season?
Harang's second rehab start with Triple-A Louisville on Friday did not offer much optimism. He pitched six innings and allowed six earned runs and nine hits with no walks and five strikeouts while throwing 95 pitches.
In his two starts for Louisville, Harang is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA, with 14 hits and 11 runs surrendered over 11 innings. He hasn't pitched for the Reds since June 30 after he went on the disabled list with lower back spasms.
"The things we really look for initially are health and stamina, which is the two reasons he is doing the rehab," Reds pitching coach Bryan Price said on Saturday. "Of course, the third part will be pitch quality. His pitch quality, through two rehab starts, hasn't been great. But his stamina and durability have improved throughout the course of this. That's the silver lining after a couple of tough outings."
Price said he has spoken to Harang about the outing. What happens next remains the dilemma. There are no deserving candidates to come out of the rotation to make room for Harang. In the bullpen, former starter Mike Leake is already the long reliever. Leake is a much better hitter than Harang, which can keep him in games longer.
The Reds could keep Harang on his rehab assignment and activate him after rosters expand on Sept. 1.
A meeting between Harang, Price, manager Dusty Baker and general manager Walt Jocketty is likely to determine what becomes of the longest-tenured Reds player this season.
"I think anything can happen," Price said. "The only thing we do know is he appears healthy and strong enough to pitch without risk of re-injury. Now we have to decide what's best for Aaron, what's best for our ballclub and make a plan from there."