CINCINNATI -- In a short amount of time, the hits have been piling up against Reds left-handed reliever Sean Marshall. The results have been far from satisfactory -- for the club or himself.
Entering Sunday, opposing hitters were batting .400 (18-for-45) against Marshall over 8 2/3 innings in his 10 games this season. Along with a 10.38 ERA, he's seen five of his 11 inherited runners score.
Marshall was limited to 16 appearances last season because of shoulder injuries, and he began this season on the disabled list with more shoulder soreness. The struggles are not related to health issues, he asserted.
"My shoulder feels good. It's kind of a feel thing," Marshall said on Sunday. "It's a combination of some missed locations, some bad luck, and just not being as sharp as I'd like. But I'm feeling better. My arm strength is almost completely back. It's just a matter of being a little better."
While Reds manager Bryan Price has conceded that Marshall's stuff isn't 100 percent yet, Price felt that Marshall wasn't rushed back too soon. Price also thinks Marshall is close to turning the corner.
"I really believe that he did everything he could do before we activated him to be ready to pitch," Price said. "He just hasn't gotten all the way back to being the guy that we know. He's not just one of the better situational lefties, he's one of the better relief pitchers in baseball. He's a legitimate top-shelf late-inning relief pitcher, and extremely reliable, but he's just not there yet."
During Saturday's 6-3 loss to the Cardinals, Marshall replaced Logan Ondrusek in the eighth inning of a 4-2 game with runners on second and third with one out. Following two curveballs that put Jon Jay in an 0-2 count, a fastball over the middle of the plate was hit hard up the middle for an RBI single. Another run scored on the next pitch -- a slider -- when Matt Adams hit an RBI single.
"I'm feeling stronger and stronger each game," Marshall said. "I feel like that [Saturday], I made just one bad pitch with its location. I tried to throw the fastball way up high, tried to change it up after the breaking ball, and went back to it and cut it back down the middle. It's been the story of all these hits I've been giving up. It's just missing my spots. I'm not as crisp and sharp as I'd like, but I've been throwing flat grounds, long toss and bullpen [sessions], and kind of honing back up. The breaking ball is back to where it's got to be. My arm speed is good. I feel like I'm very close to being my old self again."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.