Scooter Gennett wanted to make it perfectly clear.
“I am available to play,” he told writers as they approached his Great American Ball Park home clubhouse cubicle before Saturday’s game.
Gennett left Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee after four innings with tightness in his left groin. That game was just his fifth after missing the entire season with a strained right groin he’d suffered late in spring training, and he admitted to feeling some frustration.
“That was supposed to be my good groin,” he pointed out. “When you’re down to zero, it’s not a good feeling.”
Gennett, 29, was feeling much better after waking up Thursday with virtually no sorenesss. He went through a series of drills on Friday and took normal batting practice on Saturday.
“I am available to pinch-hit or double switch,” he said.
Manager David Bell hoped on Thursday that Gennett might be ready to start on Saturday, but he felt no urge to rush the second baseman.
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“Everything I’m hearing about what he did yesterday is a big relief,” Bell said. “I doubt he’ll be in the lineup (Sunday), but he’ll be fully available on Friday.
Gennett has two singles and five strikeouts in 19 at bats through his first five games.
Big step: Left-hander Alex Wood was expected to go two innings or throw 30-35 pitches in his first rehab start for Triple-A Louisville at Columbus on Saturday night, Bell said.
The 28-year-old Wood, acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in a multi-player December trade, has been sidelined all season with lower back tightness that developed in spring training. Bell wasn’t sure what would be next for Wood if all went well on Saturday.
“We’re taking it one step at a time,” the first-year manager said. “Tonight is a big step. If all goes well tonight, we’ll plan another rehab.”
Another rehab: Bell expects left-handed relief pitcher Wandy Peralta to be sent out on a rehab assignment as he makes his way back from a right hip flexor strain that sent him to the 10-day injured list on June 15.
“We’re trying to figure out a rehab date for Wandy,” Bell said. “We may do that as opposed to throwing a live (batting practice).”
Peralta, 27, is 0-1 with a 5.96 earned-run average in 28 games this season.
Duke gone: The Reds announced on Saturday that they have released left-handed pitcher Zach Duke, who was designated for assignment on Monday.
The 36-year-old Duke, signed in February as a free agent for second tour of duty with Cincinnati, was 3-1 with a 5.03 ERA in 30 games with the Reds.
Witnesses: The Reds’ batting practice was briefly interrupted when the players paused to applaud a marriage proposal that took place among the fans gathered behind the plate to watch pre-game activities.
Justin Schweinefus, 20, proposed to Britney Dole, 18, who said yes. Both are from West Harrison, Ind., though Schweinefus is in the military and stationed in Washington State.
Looking ahead: The Reds and Indians wrap up the four-game Ohio Cup series with a game on Sunday scheduled to start at 1:10 p.m. Right-hander Tyler Mahle (2-8, 4.36 ERA) is scheduled to start for Cincinnati against right-hander Trevor Bauer (7-6, 3.74).
Mahle’s only previous start against Cleveland was ugly. They reached him for six hits and seven runs – five earned – with two walks and a strikeout in 2-1/3 innings of a 19-4 loss last July 11 at Progressive Field.
The Reds are expected to wear the eighth of the 15 throwback uniforms they are wearing this season to help celebrate the 150thanniversary of baseball’s first all-professional team. Sunday’s outfits are replicas of their 1956 road uniforms. That was the season the Reds first donned vest-type jerseys, a look they kept for 11 seasons through 1966 before returning to sleeved jerseys in 1957.
One of the reasons they started wearing vests was slugging first baseman Ted Kluszewski, who had taken to ripping the sleeves off his jerseys to accommodate his massive upper arms.
The 1956 season was the first of five straight in which the word “Reds” didn’t appear on the uniforms. The team had started referring to itself as “Redlegs” in 1953 in deference to the Communist scare that was sweeping the country at the time. Removing “Reds” from the uniforms was the next step.
“Reds” returned to the jerseys in 1961.