Choo remains out of lineup, but thumb improving

Choo remains out of lineup, but thumb improving

Choo remains out of lineup, but thumb improving

PITTSBURGH -- As expected, center fielder Shin-Soo Choo was out of the Reds' lineup again on Sunday because of a sore left thumb. Choo never enjoys sitting, but he was relieved to know his injury was improving.

X-rays taken on Saturday were negative. This was the same thumb that needed surgery in 2011 to insert a plate and screws.

"The doctor said the bone was OK," Choo said Sunday morning. "I saw it, and after that, my mind was better. I think I healed quicker. Every hour, I feel better. I keep moving it."

Rookie and speedy top prospect Billy Hamilton made his second Major League start in Choo's place, and also batted leadoff.

In the ninth inning of Friday's 6-5 win over the Pirates in 10 innings, Choo jammed his thumb into first base while making a headfirst slide in an attempt to get an infield hit.

Choo expected to be available for the series finale vs. the Pirates, if needed. He also plans on being back in the lineup Monday vs. the Mets.

"I was warming up in the sixth inning [Saturday] night and ready to pinch-hit," Choo said. "It was tough to stay in the dugout. I don't like sitting in the dugout. I want to play every day. That's me. Especially in a team situation, it's very tough sitting in the dugout watching the game. I can't do anything. I can't help my team. That's the most tough time for myself on a team."

Reds manager Dusty Baker also hoped Choo would be ready for the Mets series, but he wasn't ready to commit to it.

"It's not only swinging, it's gripping the ball and throwing it, too," Baker said. "You don't realize how important your thumb is until you hurt it."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.