CINCINNATI -- Right-hander Alberto Arias threw off the mound during an extended spring training session on Tuesday, and the results were positive. Manager Brad Mills said Arias is on schedule in his rehab from right shoulder surgery.
"I guess he looked really good," Mills said. "That's a neat thing to see. Everybody is hoping he can come back and throw the ball like he did in '09."
In 2009, Arias went 2-1 with a 3.35 ERA in 42 appearances, stranding 17 of 19 inherited baserunners. If he can return to this form, it would be a major boost for the bullpen.
Arias, who missed the 2010 regular season after undergoing right shoulder surgery, did not pitch in Spring Training and is currently on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 22.
While Mills was encouraged by the reports from Arias' 60-pitch outing, he was reluctant to establish a timetable for the 27-year-old reliever's return.
"I'm going to have to go through his schedule," Mills said. "I haven't looked that far in advance."
Fulchino watches alma mater UConn win title
CINCINNATI -- Despite still nursing a large bruise after being struck by a ball in Saturday's game, Astros right-hander Jeff Fulchino was in good spirits on Tuesday.
Fulchino, who attended the University of Connecticut, watched his Huskies defeat Butler University on Monday night in the NCAA Tournament championship game.
Unfortunately for him, the Astros were spending an off-day in Cincinnati, rather than at home in Houston, the site of the Final Four.
Fulchino said he and Brandon Lyon watched the first half of Monday night's game at Nada, a Mexican restaurant in downtown Cincinnati, and the second half at the Holy Grail Tavern, located just a few steps from Great American Ball Park.
Fulchino was confident that UConn could make a run in the tournament, but he didn't anticipate the Huskies winning a national title.
"I had them going to the [Final Four]," he said.
As for the sizable bruise on his left leg, Fulchino said, "It's big, but it doesn't affect me much."
Mills keeps lineup consistent vs. Reds
CINCINNATI -- After shuffling the lineup for Sunday's series finale in Philadelphia, Astros manager Brad Mills kept some consistency in the batting order for Tuesday's series opener against the Reds.
After hitting seventh in the first two games of the season, Astros first baseman Brett Wallace remained in the No. 6 spot for the second consecutive game.
Third baseman Chris Johnson was in the lineup batting seventh for the second straight contest, this despite taking a foul ball off his kneecap in Sunday's loss to the Phillies.
After getting the day off Sunday, Astros catcher Humberto Quintero returned to the starting lineup on Tuesday.
Astros manager Brad Mills said Hunter Pence is at his best when he's spraying the ball to all fields. He also doesn't mind it when his right fielder crushes balls like he did on Sunday, when Pence hit an opposite-field solo home run off Roy Oswalt leading off the fourth inning. "I like when he doesn't use the field at all," Mills joked. "That ball was crushed." Pence should feel at home in Great American Ball Park. He's batting .289 with 11 home runs and 32 RBIs in his career against the Reds.
Jeff Wallner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.