CINCINNATI -- Aaron Harang had taken his swings in BP already, and he was back in the Reds' clubhouse, sitting and reading a magazine.

For the most part, Harang's day, as uneventful as it was, was behind him. But what was ahead of Harang was a day he'd been waiting for the past three weeks: the day he was getting his slot back in the Reds rotation.

Though the Reds haven't yet made a roster move to free that spot, they will. Manager Dusty Baker has penciled in Harang for the Sunday assignment against the Astros. The move pushed Edinson Volquez back two days, and he'll start on Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

But not even Volquez minded the extra days' rest. As he put it on Friday afternoon, "If we want to win, we need Harang back in the rotation."

Well, he's back -- unofficially, until a roster spot is credited. But that's just one of those baseball formalities. After his rehab start in Triple-A Louisville earlier this week and two bullpen sessions, Harang, who went on the disabled list on July 13 with a strained forearm, knew his return was imminent.

He just didn't know when -- until Friday.

"Dick [Pole, pitching coach] told me if I was going to throw, it was going to probably be Sunday," Harang said. "I had no idea."

In Harang's mind, Sunday is just fine. Besides, he is as eager to return to duty as the Reds are to have him return. He relishes the opportunity to compete again, and like most Major Leaguers, he's missed it.

His stint on the DL and his rehab outing in Louisville reinforced how much he missed being able to compete. He hopes his return to the rotation will spark a reversal in the team's fortunes.

"Everybody says it's fine for a while to get a couple of days off," he said of his time on the DL. "But once you've got to come to the field every day, being around the guys and not being able to go out there and help, it eventually gets to you."