CINCINNATI -- Reds manager Dusty Baker said Friday that Tony Cingrani is officially available to pitch after missing almost three weeks of action with lower back soreness. Unfortunately for the 24-year-old left-hander, that doesn't mean he's likely to make another appearance in 2013.
Cingrani threw two successful bullpen sessions earlier this week with the hopes of coming back before the end of the regular season and in time for the playoffs. As a result, pitching coach Bryan Price said Wednesday that Cingrani could potentially come out of the bullpen during this weekend's pivotal series against the Pirates, but Baker wasn't as optimistic about that happening before the opener on Friday.
"I don't know," Baker said when asked if Cingrani might pitch in one of the final three games of the season. "Probably not. A [bullpen session] is a whole lot different than getting in the game, especially at this time of year. I know we did that with [Johnny Cueto], but Cueto knows himself and his mechanics are so sound. That's a different situation. I just found out [Cingrani] was ready today, but is that game ready?"
Cingrani last pitched in a game on Sept. 10 vs. the Cubs, when he exited his 18th start of the season after giving up two earned runs in just 1 2/3 innings. That brief outing marked his second start since the same back problems put him on the 15-day disabled list in late August and early September.
Not pitching this weekend would make it even more difficult for Cingrani to make the postseason roster, especially with left-handed reliever Sean Marshall back and pitching well after overcoming his own injury.
"Whose place would [Cingrani] take that's more game ready?" Baker questioned. "The rest of the guys, they've been pitching. They've been pitching a lot."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.