While Freel has been out of the Reds' lineup, rookie Josh Hamilton has returned from his own stint on the disabled list and has performed well in center field and at the plate. Freel relinquished the starting center-field job to Hamilton in mid-April. But, despite having no regular spot open for him to claim on a daily basis, interim manager Pete Mackanin said that he hopes to utilize Freel as much as possible.
"To me, Ryan Freel is a spark plug," Mackanin said. "He's got a lot of energy. I think we need a lot of energy. I think he's been sorely missed lately. What I'm going to do is to use him as much as I can and keep him as healthy as I can, try to get him to spark us to some things."
Freel will most likely play several positions as Mackanin finds ways to incorporate him into the lineup.
"As a player, you always want to be able to get out there and play, somehow, some way," Freel said before Tuesday's game. "Whether it be what I've done my whole career [switching positions], or whether it's in one position, I don't know. But it's good to be thought about [by Mackanin] when you want a guy in the lineup.
"Right now, I'm just happy to be back in there, to be back in this clubhouse. The playing time and all that, obviously now Pete's managing us, so he'll be in charge of all that."
Freel performed well during his eight-game rehab stint with Triple-A Louisville, batting .333 in 33 at-bats with two doubles, three RBIs and two stolen bases. He played five games in center field, one at third base and two as designated hitter.
"I feel fine," Freel said. "I feel like for the most part I was swinging the bat well down there. I know the pitching obviously will be a little different, but the timing I felt was for the most part where it needs to be."
It was important to Freel to play hard from the start of his rehab games to show the organization that he had recovered completely. Before going on the disabled list, Freel batted .251 with two home runs, 12 RBIs and eight steals in 49 games for the Reds in April and May.
"The first five or six games, I let it all out, just to let them see, just to let them know that I was OK," he said.
Since Freel went on the disabled list in May, several things have changed for the Reds. Twenty games under .500 entering Tuesday, the Reds replaced manager Jerry Narron with Mackanin on Monday.
"It's a business," Freel said. "That's usually the first thing that happens when you're in a funk like that. I have a lot of respect for Jerry. Jerry was a good man, you know. It's just a baseball move, I guess. Something had to be done."
Disabled-list relievers Eddie Guardado and Mike Stanton each took part in pitchers' fielding practice and some side throwing Tuesday afternoon.
Each took fielding practice for about 15 minutes and threw for about 10 minutes.
Guardado has been recovering from Tommy John surgery on his left elbow for almost 10 months, and Stanton has been recovering from a left hamstring injury since June 17.
Guardado had seemed close to making his return to the Reds before tightness in his left forearm and lower back delayed his recovery last week. Reds medical director Dr. Timothy Kremchek examined Guardado on Friday and confirmed that the problem in the lefty's arm did not lie in the elbow.
"Obviously, you want no setbacks, but if it's going to happen, let it happen now, and know where you're at," Guardado said after Tuesday's workout. "I'm so close. I'm right there."
Guardado has made seven Minor League appearances this season, four with Louisville (5.40 ERA) and three with Class A Dayton (0.00 ERA).
Stanton said that he may return to the Reds as early as Thursday against the Giants in Cincinnati after he makes a rehab appearance with Dayton on Wednesday night.
"Nothing is set in stone," Stanton said Tuesday. "It depends on how [my leg] reacts, not just tonight but tomorrow, to running on it today. There's still some variables there, but it felt good enough."
Stanton went 1-2 with a 4.44 ERA in 35 appearances for the Reds before landing on the disabled list.
Prospect has another good outing:
Lefty Bobby Livingston had another strong outing for Louisville on Monday night, giving up only four hits in seven shutout innings with a walk and a strikeout against Indianapolis (Pirates).
Livingston (3-4) has given up just three runs over 29 innings with a 0.93 ERA in his past four starts.
Moeller was designated for assignment on Tuesday to make room for Freel on the 25-man roster. Moeller batted .170 in 47 at-bats over 29 games for the Reds this season.
The Reds and Giants will play the second game of their mid-week series on Wednesday, the Fourth of July, at 1:15 p.m. ET at Great American Ball Park. Reds right-hander Matt Belisle (5-5, 5.03 ERA) will face off against Giants right-hander Matt Cain (2-9, 3.38 ERA).