GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Even though he has no shot at winning a big league job or even pitching in a game until May, right-hander Justin Lehr was invited to camp as a non-roster player. Lehr had Tommy John surgery on his elbow last May and is nearing the stretch run of his rehabilitation.
"After being at this for nine months, it was a big deal [to be invited]," Lehr said. "I was like, 'Yes!' I'll be way ahead as camp starts, but I will fall behind because I have to do everything more. Obviously, it's nice to be invited when you know you won't be competing for a job."
Lehr made seven starts for Triple-A Louisville before he was injured and last pitched for the Reds in 2009, when he was 5-3 with a 5.37 ERA in 11 starts.
"If everything continues as it has, I'll be throwing five innings some time in camp -- maybe not this camp," Lehr said. "I want to try and get an inning [at big league camp]."
When Lehr is ready to resume pitching this season, it will likely be for Triple-A Louisville.
"I think we are looking at the long-term future with Justin somewhere in the organization, maybe as a coach or scout," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "That's why we extended the opportunity that if he had the surgery, to come back if he can. If it doesn't work out long term, maybe we'd come up with another plan for him."