CINCINNATI -- Sean Marshall, who is rehabbing from inflammation in his shoulder, was in the clubhouse before Sunday's game against the Brewers, and the left-handed reliever said he's feeling positive about his progress.
"Throwing has been going very well," said Marshall, on the disabled list since May 24. "I've been building some really good arm strength, [throwing from] 90 feet the last three days -- slowly working my way to long toss, probably starting [Monday]. We'll see how it goes from there, and then get on the mound some, hopefully at the end of the week. Probably some flat-ground mound work -- that will be the first step."
The inflammation in his shoulder was caused by some extra moving parts, which the doctors described to Marshall as "laxity," or looseness.
Marshall first went on the DL on April 10 with left shoulder tendinitis, but he returned two weeks later. This time, Marshall took two weeks off from throwing at all, and he said that's made a major difference.
"The first time it was doing it, I was kind of pitching through it," Marshall said. "I'd pitch a game and be sore for a day, pitch a game and be sore for a day. And I was like, there's something obviously deep down that's causing soreness in my shoulder. I've pitched three or four days in a row for five years now or something. I know something was a little bit different."
Although taking time off has helped, Marshall said it will take a little bit longer to build up his arm strength. He said he's getting there, though, and he hopes to be back in game action in "three weeks or less." Most importantly, he wants to make sure he's at 100 percent for the stretch run.
"We're just playing it day by day," Marshall said. "They probably will want to send me to a [Minor League] team to pitch, so I understand that. But I'm trying to work my butt off each day and stay nice and healthy and strong."
Cueto officially activated; Villarreal optioned
CINCINNATI -- On Sunday morning, the Reds made Johnny Cueto's return from the disabled list official before he started the series finale against the Brewers. To make room for the Reds ace, the team optioned reliever Pedro Villarreal, who was up for one day, back to Triple-A Louisville.
Although Cueto, coming back from a strained right shoulder, said on Saturday that he wasn't aware of a pitch limit for Sunday, manager Dusty Baker said he wouldn't push the 27-year-old right-hander too far.
"Just hope he stays out of a big inning," Baker said of Cueto. "We hope that Johnny didn't lose much in his off-time. First time, he was kind of rough when he came back, but the second [game back], he was excellent. We just hope the layoff didn't hurt him too much."
When Cueto came off the disabled list for a strained right lat on May 20, he lasted five innings and gave up three runs against the Mets. In the next two games, he combined to surrender one run in 15 innings of work.
Tony Cingrani remained with the team and could come in for extended relief if Cueto falters early. Cingrani started seven games in Cueto's place, most recently allowing two runs on four hits in seven innings against the Cubs on Tuesday. Baker wasn't sure what the future holds for Cingrani, though.
"Everybody wants to know about tomorrow," Baker said. "Like I said, tomorrow will take care of itself."
Choo takes rare day off Sunday
CINCINNATI -- Shin-Soo Choo has played in 67 of the Reds' 70 games this season, making Sunday's off-day a rare occasion.
"I just told him to stay in and rest some, come in late," manager Dusty Baker said of Choo. "I don't think he knows how to."
Baker was only half kidding, as Choo had to ask fellow outfielder Jay Bruce when he should arrive at Great American Ball Park before Sunday's game. The nine-year veteran said his body is just accustomed to arriving early.
Baker said Choo has been looking tired recently. Although Choo said he feels fine, he had no problems with taking the day off. Playing every game in center field this season, Choo said he's noticed the position is much different than playing in right, where he's spent the majority of his career, including 155 games last season with the Indians.
"I think I've used more energy, I think," Choo said. "I've played a lot of corner outfield, and the ball just comes to my area. But center field, you have to move on both sides. Wherever the ball goes, you have to move. You don't know if the ball's going to hit the fence and come back, so I have to move. They're a lot different."
Every day is Father's Day in Reds' clubhouse
CINCINNATI -- Along with Sunday being the rubber game between the Reds and Brewers, it was also Father's Day at Great American Ball Park. In celebration of the holiday, the first 10,000 dads at the game received a free duffel bag.
The Reds themselves also enjoyed the day. Shin-Soo Choo showed off a handmade card from his son, Alan, and even though he's still on the disabled list, reliever Sean Marshall was excited to be in the clubhouse.
"Enjoying this day today. It'll be a good Father's Day," Marshall said. "It's always a good atmosphere on this day."
Several players' and coaches' sons were in and around the clubhouse on Sunday, but that's nothing new for Dusty Baker's team.
"I invite these guys to bring their kids down," Baker said. "We spend a lot of time away from our families. There are times I wish I could have gone to work with my dad. I wasn't allowed to go inside because he worked for the military, and I never did find out what he did."
Baker said it means a lot both to the fathers on the team and their kids to be able to spend time together at the park. And when it comes time for the players to focus on preparing for the game, their sons are never a distraction.
"They make up their own games," Baker said. "They don't need anybody, you just give them some water."
• The Reds announced Sunday that outfielder Chris Heisey is expected to start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville on Friday. On the disabled list since April 29 with a strained right hamstring, Heisey had his initial rehab assignment cut short after one inning when he aggravated the injury. More recently, he faced another setback -- soreness while trying to slide.
Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.