ST. LOUIS -- Reds lefty reliever Sean Marshall realizes time is short for him to return from the sprained left shoulder that has had him on the disabled list. Marshall has stepped up his rehab and throwing.
"I'm pushing it and trying my best," Marshall said on Tuesday. "I want to help the team out, especially in the last couple of weeks when the games are very important."
Marshall took a month off from throwing after a mid-July setback and resumed eight days ago.
"I built my arm strength back up and got familiar with my mechanics again," Marshall said. "I got a lot of strength in there last month. The shoulder is really stable. So far, it's been good."
Marshall has increased his long-tossing distance to 105 feet and hopes to soon to be throwing pitches from flat ground. If all goes well, he's hopeful he could be on a mound by the beginning of next week. But will his efforts be enough to get him back to help this season?
"I feel very optimistic," Marshall said. "I'm trying as hard as I can and working as hard as I can every day."
Learning curve: Parra, Hoover filling big shoes
ST. LOUIS -- Veteran relievers are used to bouncing back from bad outings that cost their team a game, or games. The Reds' primary right-handed setup man, J.J. Hoover, is a second-year Major Leaguer. The main bullpen lefty, Manny Parra, is only in his second year as a reliever.
Both have stepped into the roles of injured relievers Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton.
"They are minimum salary guys doing maximum salary guys' work," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
Baker had both pitchers in his office for chats on Tuesday, one day after the job wasn't done in a five-run seventh inning of the Reds' 8-6 loss to the Cardinals. Parra walked his first batter, Matt Carpenter, while Hoover walked his first batter, Matt Holliday, before leaving a first-pitch fastball over the plate to Allen Craig. That was hit for a two-out grand slam.
It was the second grand slam hit off of Hoover within six days. His 26 1/3-innings scoreless streak was snapped last week on a Paul Goldschmidt grand slam at Great American Ball Park. Parra, who had been airtight for much of the season, has allowed one earned run in each of his last three appearances.
"It's tough to take, but they are still learning," Baker said. "I always say you've got to continue to teach -- teaching them from a hitter's perspective to the pitcher and the pitcher's perspective to the hitters."
On the pitch to Craig, Hoover was trying to go outside because he was worried about hitting him with an inside pitch with the bases loaded. Hoover didn't get it out enough.
"I told him, when you put negative thoughts into your head, you get negative results," Baker said. "I talked to him today that the pitch was neither away, nor in. That's what happens when you're in the middle of conviction. You throw it in the middle. That's where that pitch went."
Lorenzen among Reds prospects to play in AFL
ST. LOUIS -- Reds pitching prospect Michael Lorenzen was drafted by the organization in June and has already pitched at four different levels. Taken 38th overall as a first-round competitive-balance pick out of California State University Fullerton, Lorenzen reached Double-A Pensacola earlier this month.
Before the year is over, Lorenzen will be with a fifth team. He was among several prospects named Tuesday to participate in the Arizona Fall League. A two-way player in college -- and ranked by MLB.com as the Reds' No. 6 prospect -- the AFL stint will be a chance to pitch more out of the bullpen.
"It will be a good experience for him to continue to face a high level of competition while focusing solely on pitching," said Reds player development director Jeff Graupe. "He's been going out and competing, and it's been fun to watch him continue to develop."
Lorenzen, 21, has a 2.84 ERA in 20 appearances combined in the Arizona League, Class A Dayton, Class A Bakersfield and Pensacola. He has walked 13 and struck out 17.
"He's worked exclusively out of the bullpen and acclimated to the professional level," Graupe said. "We'll let him develop his offspeed pitches and see where things go."
Joining Lorenzen on the Glendale Desert Dogs' squad are six Pensacola players -- pitchers Drew Hayes and James Walczak, catcher Tucker Barnhart, infielder Travis Mattair and outfielders Yorman Rodriguez and Ryan LaMarre. Also going to Arizona is pitcher Chad Rogers. Rookie level Billings pitching coach Tom Browning will be the AFL team's pitching coach.
Triple-A Louisville center fielder Billy Hamilton was named a 2013 International League Postseason All-Star on Tuesday. The ballots for the honorary team were cast by International League general managers, managers, coaches, radio broadcasters and beat writers. Hamilton entered Tuesday leading the league with 73 stolen bases.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.