CINCINNATI -- Reds infielder Chris Valaika's hopes to compete for a roster spot next spring improved this weekend when he was cleared to start running and throwing by the medical staff. Valaika suffered a completely torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a game vs. the Rockies on Sept. 11. Getting to start more advanced activity was a boost for the 26-year-old's morale. "It's been a grind. The first part of the rehab is slow and pretty monotonous not being able to get outside and feel human," Valaika said while at Redsfest. "My offseason is starting and I'm getting myself ready for the season instead of just doing rehab."
In 14 games over two big league stints with the Reds this past season, Valaika batted .280 (7-for-25) and made seven starts. He batted .261 with seven homers and 37 RBIs at Triple-A Louisville. Valaika previously tore the same ACL while in college and was more comfortable with the rehab work this time. "I'm a little bit more familiar. I don't have to be as cautious," he said. "The trainers are doing a great job with me, but I also know what to expect. When they tell me something, I jump in with both feet instead of asking questions and being nervous about it." Valaika hoped to be cleared to begin hitting in the next few weeks. He's been working out in Arizona with teammate Zack Cozart, who is rehabbing from elbow and ankle surgeries. "We've been hanging out a lot there together," Valaika said. "It's as close to home as we'll get this year."