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Nearing return, Hannahan may help at first base

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Nearing return, Hannahan may help at first base

CINCINNATI -- The 20-day Minor League rehabilitation assignment for the Reds' Jack Hannahan will run its course after Sunday. If he's given the green light by the team, it could mean that Cincinnati will get a more experienced first baseman on the roster sooner than later.

Hannahan, expected to be the backup third baseman and first baseman entering the year, has been out all season after October right shoulder surgery. He's also had a couple of setbacks since Spring Training.

"He's not ready to play third base yet. His throwing hasn't evolved to the point where he can play third base," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Friday. "But he's been swinging the bat better down there. He's playing without pain when he hits. He's able to go out and defend at first base. We'll see him here soon and kind of be able to have a better look at him when we see him ourselves."

Hannahan began his rehab assignment July 8 at Class A Dayton, where he played four games and was 4-for-12 as the designated hitter. In his previous seven games through Thursday at Triple-A Louisville, he is 5-for-24 (.208) with two doubles and five RBIs after starting out 0-for-14. He's had five starts as the DH and two starts at first base.

During a recent phone call, Price said Hannahan told him he had only one in-game chance to make a play that required a throw. Otherwise, it's been the typical catch-and-throw plays at first base.

"He doesn't have a great host of opportunities to try it," Price said. "He does, however, do a lot of early work, pregame stuff, where he's doing throwing to second base, fielding bunts and things of that nature. We have to decide how to utilize him if he's ready to play."

With first baseman Joey Votto (left quadriceps) and second baseman Brandon Phillips (left thumb surgery) expected out with injuries for a few more weeks, backup players have filled in. That has stretched the Reds' bench thin with experienced players. Hannahan could be used off the bench or be a starting option at first base when neither catcher Brayan Pena nor third baseman Todd Frazier can play there.

Before making any decision on whether to activate him, Price would like to see Hannahan work out at Great American Ball Park. Louisville is playing at home this weekend, including a doubleheader on Saturday.

"He has to be able to help. We're not in a position with a 25-man roster to have guys that are extremely limited," Price said.

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.

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