MLB Insiders - Cincinnati Reds

The Pirates open a three-game series in Cincinnati on Tuesday night. Righty Ian Snell will be on the hill for the Bucs. The Reds will counter with right-hander Aaron Harang.

The Pirates will hope for a better start to September on Tuesday when they begin a road series with the Cincinnati Reds, who are coming off a three-game sweep.

Aaron Harang (4-14, 5.27 ERA) will try to keep the Pirates' bats silent on Monday. He's 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA in two starts against Pittsburgh this year, and is coming off a loss in Houston on Thursday. Harang allowed three runs in seven innings, striking out nine, but fell 3-2.

He'll be opposed by Ian Snell (5-10, 5.77), who didn't get a decision despite struggling in his last start. Snell gave up five runs in four innings to the Cubs on Tuesday in Pittsburgh's 14-9 loss.

Snell is 1-2 with a 6.23 ERA in three starts against the Reds in 2008.

Utility man Wilkin Castillo was recalled Sunday from Class AAA Louisville and is what manager Dusty Baker calls an extremely useful tool.

Castillo is a catcher by name, but also plays first base, second base, shortstop, third base, left field and right field.

"He's Eli Marrero, that's who he is," said Baker. Marrero played 10 years in the majors, mostly with the St. Louis Cardinals, and was a catcher/first baseman/outfielder.

Castillo, 24, has been in Louisville since the Reds acquired him in the Aug. 14 trade of Adam Dunn to the Diamondbacks.

He combined to hit .248 at Class AAA Tucson and Louisville, but the big thing is that he caught 54 games, played 48 games at third, five games at second, six games at shortstop and eight games in left field.

"I had to have another player because I played a man short Saturday and Sunday and I didn't want to be another man short any longer, especially for the outfield," said Baker. "I was short Saturday."

To make room, righty Ramon Ramirez, who was outstanding in his major league debut Saturday, was optioned to Class A Sarasota.

It is a procedural move, a paper shuffle. Ramirez didn't actually go to Sarasota. The SaraReds' season is over and Ramirez will return to the Reds on Tuesday when the roster can be expanded from 25 to as many as 40.

--RHP Aaron Harang is being moved up a spot so he can pitch on his regular rest Tuesday against the Pirates in Great American Ball Park.

--RHP Josh Fogg, originally scheduled for Tuesday, has been moved back to Thursday.

--RHP Jared Burton, on the DL (sore lat muscle) since the week before the All-Star break, will be activated Tuesday and return to his duty as a set-up man in bullpen.

--RHP Ramon Ramirez, who made his major league debut Saturday with a strong seven innings (three runs, five hits) returns to the club Tuesday after he was optioned to Sarasota on Sunday to make room for C/INF/OF Wilkin Castillo. Ramirez turned a three-run lead over to the bullpen, but he received a no-decision when the bullpen blew the save against the Giants.

--1B Joey Votto had four hits Sunday and has hit safely in eight of his last 10 games (18-for-37, .484) and is hitting .400 (32-for-80) in his last 23 games.

--RHP David Weathers has appeared in 60 or more games for 10 consecutive years and he is a free agent after the season, one of nine free agents on the club. The team must make a decision on whether to sign the 39-year-old reliever.

--UT Wilkin Castillo was recalled from Class AAA Louisville and is what manager Dusty Baker calls an extremely useful tool. Castillo is a catcher by trade, but also plays first base, second base, shortstop, third base, left field and right field.

BY THE NUMBERS: 24 -- Home runs by 3B Edwin Encarnacion, a career-high, to go along with 21 errors, four shy of his career-high.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I said in spring training that 3B Edwin Encarnacion was my pick to have a big season, his best, and he is doing that in the home run category." -- Manager Dusty Baker, on Encarnacion's career-best 24 home runs, but he's hitting only .252 and has only 57 RBIs.


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