Milton ready to return to rotation
He expects to start exhibition game 1st
By Marc Lancaster / Post staff reporter
Eric Milton walked off the mound with a huge smile on his face, and that in itself was an indication of progress.
The left-hander, on the disabled list after arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, threw 85 pitches in a simulated game Wednesday afternoon. Facing Chris Denorfia, Quinton McCracken and Ray Olmedo, he looked good and felt better.
So good that he said he expects to make one start that doesn't count - Monday against Pittsburgh in the Hall of Fame Game at Cooperstown, N.Y. - and return to the Reds' rotation.
"I'm guessing that's probably it," he said. "I'll probably be (activated) in Detroit."
Manager Jerry Narron wasn't ready to jump on that timetable, saying the Reds would see how Milton feels today before officially giving him the Monday assignment, then see how he looks in that outing before taking the next step.
"He looks pretty close to me," said Narron. "It's just a matter of him getting back in the routine of it. You miss a couple weeks, you're just going to have to get back up to where you were. It'll take a couple starts to do that."
Nonetheless, Milton clearly was pleased with what he had done Wednesday.
"What I like is my arm is fresh," he said. "My arm feels great."
Not only did he throw all his pitches, "I was making stuff up - dropping down and adding some stuff."
Milton last pitched April 18, when the Marlins touched him up for nine runs in 4 1/3 innings. He had surgery six days later, and the original projection for his return was three or four weeks.
His proposed timetable falls on the short side of that range, but it remains to be seen whether the club will back Milton - known for his hard-charging approach to these things - in his quest to be back on the mound next weekend against the Tigers.
As far as Milton is concerned, there's no reason to dawdle.
"Today would have been the day to see how I felt and today was normal," he said. "That's a good sign. Everything's good; there's really no holding me back."