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Reds place catcher Devin Mesoraco on 15-day DL

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Reds' Chapman ready for rehab stint in minors
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during an exhibition baseball game in Goodyear, Ariz., Monday, March 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

ATLANTA (AP) -- The Cincinnati Reds placed catcher Devin Mesoraco on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a strained left hamstring, and injured closer Aroldis Chapman made a ''big step'' in his recovery from facial fractures.

Mesoraco hurt his hamstring while scoring from second in Friday night's 5-4 loss at Atlanta.

Chapman was hit by a line drive during an exhibition game on March 19, breaking his nose and a bone above his left eye. The left-hander looked strong while throwing 43 pitches in batting practice before Saturday night's game against the Braves.

The session was divided into two ''innings,'' separated by a five-minute break.

It was Chapman's second time throwing batting practice and his first without a protective screen in front of the mound. He is scheduled to throw another simulated game on Tuesday in Cincinnati before beginning a rehab stint in the minors.

''I think it was a big step today to throw without a protective screen for the first time since the incident happened,'' Reds manager Bryan Price said. ''I thought it was a big step, and if one more outing makes him feel physically and mentally more prepared to face hitters in a game situation, that's great.''

Chapman said he is still regaining the stamina he needs to feel ready for games.

''I think everything went well,'' Chapman said through a translator. ''I don't feel physically the same way I was feeling in spring training but I believe with a little work I will be in the physical shape that I want to be.''

Chapman said he wasn't worried about throwing without the protective screen normally used in batting practice.

''Actually, I'm really positive,'' he said. ''Since everything that happened to me, I've been really positive. I didn't have a bad thought that this could happen again, that I could have any trauma to my head again.''

Price said he does not think Chapman will need a long stay in the minors.

''I hate to put a number on it because that would be reckless, but after we send him out I don't think it will be much more than a week,'' Price said.

Right-hander Jonathan Broxton has four saves as the fill-in closer.

Third baseman Todd Frazier was held out of the lineup after leaving Friday night's game with tightness in his left leg. Price said Frazier probably could have started if needed.

The Reds recalled catcher Tucker Barnhart from Triple-A Louisville to play behind Brayan Pena. Neftali Soto is making his first career start at third base against the Braves.

Barnhart, Soto and Ramon Santiago took turns in the batter's box against Chapman.

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