MLB

Reds SS Cozart back in lineup after finger injury

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CINCINNATI (AP)

Shortstop Zack Cozart was back in the Reds' starting lineup against the Chicago Cubs on Monday night, two days after he suffered a frightening finger injury while trying to bunt.

Cozart thought he'd broken his right index finger when it was hit by the pitch while he tried to bunt during a 3-2, 13-inning win over Miami. X-rays were negative and the finger made a quicker-than-expected recovery.

Cozart left the game right after he got hit, thinking he'd suffered a serious injury. Even when the X-rays were negative, he figured it would be some time before the finger was healed enough to let him play.

''When it happens, your first thought is that it's broke,'' Cozart said. ''You find out it's not, obviously it's a positive. I think I am a little surprised that it didn't swell up any more.''

Cozart was able to throw and bat without a problem. He planned to wear a pad in the index finger of his batting glove to cushion the finger for a while.

He'd never been hit on the fingers by a pitch.

''The reason it's scary is there's no padding,'' he said. ''It's basically hitting your bone. So I'm surprised nothing was broken.''

The Reds already are without starter Johnny Cueto, reliever Sean Marshall, cleanup hitter Ryan Ludwick and catcher Ryan Hanigan, all on the disabled list with injuries. Manager Dusty Baker initially thought he was going to be without his shortstop, too.

''This could have been devastating,'' Baker said.

Cueto is making progress in recovering from a pulled muscle in his back that landed him on the 15-day disabled list a week ago. There's no timetable for when he'll start throwing off a mound.

''He's coming along,'' Baker said. ''I read the (trainers') reports. They said he's doing better. It don't heal overnight. He's got to get well first before he starts throwing. You don't want any lingering effects with that.''

Marshall, a left-handed set-up man, hasn't pitched this season because of tendinitis in his shoulder. He was set to start a rehab stint at Triple-A on Monday, the first of several appearances before he's reinstated.

''Usually one's not enough,'' Baker said. ''You've got to do a day (of rest) in-between. You've got to do usually back-to-back (performances). So we'll see how he comes out of this.''

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Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay

Tagged: Reds

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