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July 4, 2013 at 4:16 PM

Harang returning to Cincy, Morse nears rehab assignment, and other notes

It’s been more than two seasons since Aaron Harang left the Reds, but tomorrow will mark the first time since then he’s pitched in Cincinnati. Harang, who won 75 games in eight seasons with the Reds, will face Mike Leake at Great American Ballpark — weather permitting. The Reds were rained out today and more bad weather is in the forecast all weekend. One offshoot of today’s postponement is that Homer Bailey, coming off a no-hitter, will no longer face Seattle. He was scheduled to go Sunday against Joe Saunders, but the Reds rotation was pushed back a day, and Bailey won’t go until Monday in Milwaukee. Instead, Saunders will face Bronson Arroyo. On Saturday, Mat Latos opposes Jeremy Bonderman.

Harang has faced the Reds once since he left — a year ago today on July 4 while with the Dodgers. Pitching at Dodger Stadium, he worked seven strong innings for the victory, allowing just three hits and one run. Harang recalled that he also faced them once in spring training two years ago while with San Diego.

“I didn’t fare so well,” he said. “(Padres manager) Bud Black said with the first one, there’s always a lot more adrenaline going in, and you’re not as in control. So he said let’s do that in spring and get it out of the way. Then I faced them last year and threw well against them.”

Harang has been back to Cincinnati with the Dodgers and Padres, but the rotation didn’t work out that he pitched. Still, he said, it was fun.

“I had lunch with some of my neighbors, got to see friends, see all the security guys on the field, the clubhouse guys. You see a lot of people around Cincinnati. I spent so much of my time there it was like a second home for me. It’s always fun to go back.”

Harang isn’t sure if he’ll get a positive reception.

“We’ll see. Maybe early on, but we’ll see the outcome of the game. It might be a different story.”

Great American Ballpark is a notorious hitters park where home runs fly at a rapid rate, but Harang said there are ways to combat that.

“It’s kind of like Colorado,” he said. “Yeah, the ball does seem to fly there more, but you have to go in knowing, don’t have runners on base when their big guys come to bat, make sure you limit walks, and execute your pitches. We’re in the same boat when we go in there, the hitters get all excited. The biggest thing is, the guys have to go in there and keep their same plan. Not go in and try to hit homers. You see that a lot, too, from the visiting team, them coming in and trying to hit home runs, because they know the stigma of the stadium.

“I think if we go in, keep the same approach we have down here, guys have been swinging the bat well. Pitchers have to go in there and be ready, too, because we actually have to chip in with the bats as well.”

Harang was particularly pleased to see Homer’s emergence with his second no-hitter.

“I was fortunate enough to be there when Homer first came up and was able to talk with him a lot and work with him and watch him grow and mature and really learn himself and learn what it takes to be a successful pitcher,” he said. “I still text him. I texted him the other night congratulations on the second one. It’s been fun watching their progression, watching the young guys’ progression. I was there in 2010 and it was fun to be part of that playoff run and getting to the playoffs.”

Mariners manager Eric Wedge said that Michael Morse, on the disabled list with a strained right quad, will run the bases tomorrow, a key test. Friday is also the day he’s eligible to come off the DL. If the running goes well, Morse will go out on a rehab assignment.

“He’s getting closer,” Wedge said. “We’ll continue to see how he feels this weekend and go from there. He’s going to have to go out, it’s just a matter of when. We’ll see how he does on the bases tomorrow. When he gets to the point he’s all the way back, we’ll send him out.”





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