HOUSTON -- It was only a simulated game, but pitcher Aaron Harang's latest outing on Wednesday left the Reds optimistic his return from the disabled list could finally be nearing.
Harang threw 50 pitches of live batting practice over two innings -- 25 in each -- with rest in between.
"He looked pretty good," said manager Dusty Baker, who watched from behind the batting cage. "I was surprised that his location was really good and velocity was good. His changeup was pretty good. The ball came out of his hand free and easy."
On the DL because of a strained right forearm, Harang faced Reds hitters Corey Patterson, Andy Phillips and Jolbert Cabrera.
During the first 25 pitches, Harang threw with the protective screen between him and the hitters. Once the screen was removed for the second inning, he felt more comfortable.
"I did 15 from the windup, 10 from the stretch each time," Harang said. "I was throwing all my pitches. It all felt good coming out. The offspeed stuff had a little rust. I have to get used to throwing that again. I had basically been throwing just fastballs the whole last week playing catch."
The plan is to have Harang throw in a light bullpen session on Friday. If that goes well, he's likely headed to Triple-A Louisville on Monday for a rehab assignment start.
It's likely the start would have a pitch count limit of 70-75 pitches. Harang has not pitched in a game since his forearm stiffened following a July 8 start at Chicago.
"I was putting high expectations on myself because I felt better than I thought I would after throwing the other day," Harang said of Wednesday's session. "I put a lot more pressure on myself to be ready to go. I want to be ready to go going into this rehab start. Hopefully it's that one start and I'll be back. It's up to them on what they think after seeing what I do."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.