Then, the wear and tear took its toll.
Ondrusek had a 0.68 ERA in 29 appearances from May 11-July 23. For the following seven appearances, he had a 14.53 ERA before a trip to the disabled list for two weeks with a strained right forearm.
"We'd hopefully like to limit the number of appearances he has," Reds manager Dusty Baker said Friday. "Sometimes, it can't be helped. Ondrusek did well. When he was strong, he was really good. There were periods when we had to use him."
Over a career-high 66 appearances last season, Ondrusek was 5-3 with a 3.23 ERA. Of his 35 inherited runners, 10 scored.
Ondrusek, 27, is expected to retain his role as a late-inning reliever, most likely around the seventh inning.
"I still view it as I have to earn my spot and nothing will be given to me," Ondrusek said. "I'm still preparing the same way I did the first two years. Come in, get people out and try to make the team."
While Ondrusek tallied his appearance total, not counted are the number of days he had to get warmed up and sit down again, without being used. It can be a grind that requires some adjustment.
"The big league wear and tear and strain is new on young guys," Baker said. "In the Minor Leagues, they're two days and off automatically. I remember having one kid up and he had pitched and the next day he had his tennis shoes on. I said, 'What's going on here?' He told me that in the Minor Leagues if he pitched, he was off the next day completely. I said, 'You're not in the Minor Leagues now.'"
Ondrusek said he did not alter his offseason routine much and took a month off before resuming conditioning and eventually his throwing program. He spent his winter working out at Montana State University in Bozeman, where his fiance is from.
"It's nice and quiet and peaceful. You can definitely disappear there for a while," Ondrusek said. "I'm looking to build off of what I did the first four months of last season. After the injury, the last two months were a bit of a struggle. I want to forget about those and get back to the way I was at the beginning of the year."