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06/08/07 7:37 PM ET

Notes: Recovery slow for Freel

Outfielder still feeling effects of horrific collision with Hopper

CINCINNATI -- One look at Ryan Freel on Friday and it was clear he would not be back in the Reds lineup very soon.

Speaking quietly and looking a little dazed, Freel was still feeling the effects of his May 28 outfield collision with Norris Hopper. Taken to the hospital from the field in an ambulance, he was diagnosed with head and neck contusions after his head connected hard with Hopper's elbow.

Head and CT scans taken during his overnight hospitalization came back normal, but all signs pointed to Freel suffering symptoms of a concussion.

"I know it was a concussion," Freel said in his first public comments since the incident. "I've had them before and know what it is. I was knocked out. Every other time I've had concussions, I've been knocked out. None of them have been like this. I never had the lingering affects. This is totally different than what I had before."

Freel estimated that he's possibly had "nine or 10 concussions."

The 31-year-old, who is on the 15-day disabled list, was examined again on Friday by team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek. The club reported that though Freel was "slowly showing improvement, he has not been cleared to participate in any physical activity."

"I'm still getting headaches," Freel said. "I can't read a whole bunch. Remembering stuff is still not where I need to be."

Freel said that he struggled to get through some recent tests. One was on an exercise bike, and he had to stop when the headaches became overwhelming.

"The first five days, I didn't even get out of bed," he said. "I had pretty bad headaches and nausea and dizziness. I tried driving a couple of times before maybe I was supposed to. I had some pretty bad headaches by driving, a lot of discomfort and pressure. That's gotten better."

As for the scary play that knocked him out, Freel has no recollection of it.

"I don't remember what happened," he said. "I saw the play [on video]. I just talked to Hop for the first time, and he told me I hit his elbow. I don't know what happened after that."

While Hopper was trying to rouse his unconscious teammate on the warning track in the game against the Pirates, he subtly slipped the ball into Freel's glove, and the umpire called Pittsburgh's Humberto Cota out on the play.

"That was good. At least we can say we got an out of it," joked Freel.

Coffey demoted again: To make room for Homer Bailey on the 25-man roster on Friday, the Reds optioned reliever Todd Coffey back to Triple-A Louisville. Coffey, who is 1-1 with a 4.81 ERA in 28 games, had just been recalled from Louisville on Tuesday, and he threw two-thirds of an inning over two games at St. Louis, with one hit allowed.

During his previous two-week stint at Louisville, Coffey made six scoreless appearances over 5 2/3 innings.

"I'm sure with our situation, he'll be back some time before the year is over," manager Jerry Narron said.

Sending Coffey down was a bit of a surprise. Rookie Marcus McBeth originally seemed a likely candidate, but his perfect eighth inning against the Cardinals on Wednesday helped his cause.

"McBeth pitched well the other night, looked good," Narron said. "He did a good job at the end of games in Triple-A, and deserves a chance to pitch here."

If right-hander Jared Burton wasn't a Rule 5 player, Coffey would have likely remained. Burton has been inconsistent, and Narron tries to pick his spots in which to use the rookie. If Burton isn't on the 25-man roster all season, he'd have to clear waivers and be offered back to his original organization -- Oakland.

"We're going to find a spot where we can pitch Burton as much as possible," Narron said. "Hopefully, the more he pitches, the better he'll pitch."

Top Hopper: Playing center field, Hopper was back in the leadoff spot on Friday. With three left-handers pitching for the Indians this weekend (Cliff Lee, Jeremy Sowers and C.C. Sabathia), Narron planned on using the right-handed-hitting Hopper in the lineup for all three games vs. Cleveland and will likely have him face lefties in the top spot until Freel returns.

Big cleanup effort: All was clean and dry in the Reds clubhouse when the players returned on Friday from a 10-day road trip. That wasn't taken for granted, as a water main break flooded the room with two inches of water earlier this week.

"There was a lot of water," said Declan Mullin, vice president of ballpark operations. "We were just glad it didn't get up into the guys' lockers."

The damage to items in the clubhouse was considered minimal, though a few computers and a supply of baseballs were destroyed. An assortment of high-powered fans and dehumidifiers were brought in to dry the carpeted floors. Flooding was more serious in the Diamond Club area, and walls had to be replaced.

Numerology: For his Major League debut on Friday, Bailey wore No. 34, but he didn't request it. Equipment manager Rick Stowe had lofty thoughts in mind when assigning it.

"Nolan Ryan, my man. A Texas hero," Stowe said. "No. 21 for Roger Clemens was taken [by Scott Hatteberg]."

Ryan wore No. 34 for the Astros and Rangers. A Texan like Ryan and Clemens, Bailey hails from La Grange.

Coming up: Matt Belisle (5-4, 4.48) will start for the Reds against Sowers (1-6, 6.63) and the Indians on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. ET.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.