CINCINNATI -- The Reds have been without the services of starter Mat Latos since the beginning of Spring Training, but once again, there is optimism that his return isn't too far away from being a reality.
Latos, who threw his first bullpen session on Sunday since a right flexor mass strain in April set him back, will work off a mound again on Wednesday. A third bullpen session will follow at some point, and he is expected to join the team on its next road trip at Philadelphia and Washington, where he could pitch in a simulated game.
Following a rehab assignment, Latos could be back by the end of month or the first week of June. But manager Bryan Price remained cautious about the timetable.
"I try to stay with the day to day plan. We didn't anticipate the flexor mass strain," Price said on Tuesday. "We always leave it open to be able to adjust it."
Latos had two surgeries since he last pitched in 2013. In October, he had bone chips removed from his right elbow. He had nearly completed his rehab when he tore the meniscus in his left knee the week Spring Training began in February. After one rehab assignment game, the flexor mass strain in his right arm forced a shut down.
"The way we intend to get Mat back in the mix is to have more of a traditional one simulated game and then get him out [on a rehab assignment] and build him up," Price said. "What's transpired that we didn't anticipate is the setbacks. The setback created a 10-day non-throwing window for Mat."
That's forced the Reds to take things slower with Latos, and he had to return to long tossing from a distance of 60 feet before recently reaching 200 feet. On the rehab assignment, he will need to reach 85-90 pitches before he can be activated from the disabled list.
"It's not going to be baby steps, but it will be a little bit less aggressive than the pace we had originally set up for him," Price said. "He's in really good throwing shape now after the long-toss program. I could see him going out and throwing three innings, and that's maybe 50 pitches. Maybe within three outings, he could be stretched out to that 90-pitch target number."
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.