CINCINNATI -- Cancer treatments had noticeably taken some weight off pitching coach Vern Ruhle and hampered his endurance.
But back with the Reds on Friday for the first time since Spring Training, Ruhle couldn't help feeling great.
"It's been a fun day," Ruhle said. "There's been a lot of smiles and visiting with the different players. A few last year and some even this year that have known about what I've gone through have given big hugs and [said], 'Great to see you,' and so on."
Last week, Ruhle had a check-up at Houston's M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and was told he was showing solid improvement.
"'I don't need to see you until after the season is over,'" Ruhle said the doctor told him.
The 55-year-old wasted little time. He quickly called Reds manager Jerry Narron and asked if he could come back to work. Ruhle, who spent some of Friday's pre-game time monitoring bullpen sessions and pitchers' batting practice, will be with the club for the six-game homestand but not travel on the next road trip. Nothing else was planned beyond that.
"We're just elated that he's here," Narron said.
"To see him in uniform and on the field is awesome," reliever Todd Coffey said.
The undisclosed form of cancer kept Ruhle away from baseball, but never too far from the game. As he spent three months confined to the hospital bed undergoing a myriad of treatments and dealing with their side effects, he monitored games over the Internet and on television. He regularly received phone calls and e-mails from the coaching staff, especially interim pitching coach Tom Hume.
It was baseball that kept Ruhle positive.
"It was something that really helped me throughout the summer in the healing process," he said. "I always had something to talk about that was very neutral in the eyes of the doctors, the nurses and the visitors. We could always talk about something other than my medical aspect of what's going on and what was and wasn't working."
In a unique perspective of how massive changes have been to the Reds' roster this season, Ruhle found he was introducing himself to many new players. Most of the bullpen had turned over since March.
"This is baseball," Ruhle said laughing. "You have to find a way to survive and to win. It's about winning. People remember you as a winner and that's what we're striving to put on the field."
With the focus on his completely beating cancer, it wasn't yet known whether Ruhle would be on the Reds' coaching staff next season.
"All the medical things have been going so well," he said. "I hope that I would be considered in that role [as pitching coach]. We'll see what happens."