07/26/08 6:47 PM ET
Hairston could return within the week
Utility man eligible to rejoin roster as soon as Tuesday
By Brandon Harris / MLB.com
Hairston has been on the 15-day disabled list since July 14 with a strained right hamstring, but he's recently started running and testing his strength. He ran sprints at full speed for the first time Saturday and plans to begin a rehab assignment Tuesday at Class A Dayton.
Hairston is eligible to return from the disabled list that day, but he said he'll spend a few days in Louisville, use Thursday's off-day to rest and hopes to rejoin the Reds in Washington for next weekend's series against the Nationals.
"I ran at 100 percent today and felt great," Hairston said. "Things are going well, I'm feeling good and hopefully I can return soon. I'm eligible to return Tuesday, I think, but we've got an off-day Thursday, so I'm going to use that day to rest."
Hairston tested his hamstring Friday, running at 85 percent, and reported no problems. He sustained the injury July 13 at Milwaukee.
His presence is much needed, too. Though Jay Bruce has performed well in center field and Jeff Keppinger hasn't missed a beat at shortstop -- the two positions utility man Hairston primarily plays -- the Reds miss him most as a leadoff hitter.
Cincinnati is 20-11 with Hairston leading off. Bruce has since taken over the role, but the Reds are just 8-10 in that situation. Reds manager Dusty Baker said he greatly prefers to have Hairston leading off and Bruce later on in the order.
Bruce is just 10-for-40 (.250) at the plate in the Reds' current homestand. He's hitting .266 for the season, but Hairston left hitting .351.
"I'd love to have Hairston back, big time," Baker said. "Our record when he's in there is unbelievable. ... He's moving around pretty good, but he's going to go test [the hamstring] pretty soon. But we'll see. I hope nothing happens. The hamstring, boy, as soon as you think you've got it, it's back on you."
Brandon Harris is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.