CINCINNATI -- Controlling the Reds' running game -- and specifically Billy Hamilton -- will be front and center when the Rays meet the Reds at the Great American Ball Park on Saturday afternoon.
Rays starter Alex Cobb noted that he has not done any extra preparation in advance of squaring off against the Reds and the speedy Hamilton, but he allowed that he's continually working on improvements in that vein.
"I've been working on controlling the running game," Cobb said. "That will be no more evident than tomorrow during the game -- if I have Hamilton on, especially. We're well aware of that.
"We've got [Ryan] Hanigan [who used to play for the Reds] and knows them really well. He's really good at controlling the running game also. So we should be in good hands with that."
Cobb has not studied video of Hamilton's running, but he's well aware of what he can do.
"I've seen [Hamilton] on ESPN and Baseball Tonight, of him tagging on popups to shortstop and stuff, so that's been pretty impressive," Cobb said. "Hopefully, I won't see too much of it live."
Cobb believes the most critical thing he can do is not fall into any patterns.
"Just not getting into a habit of anything over the course of an at-bat or the course of the time that he's on the basepaths," Cobb said. "Him not being able to time me up going to home plate. And the next thing is making sure your times are respectable -- 1.3 [seconds] or below. And giving Hanny a chance to get somebody."
Speaking of Hamilton, the outfielder is off to a slow start offensively, which is the best way for a team to keep him from beating them on the basepaths.
"It's a very young part of a young player's career in its very early stages," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "We've seen him just over a week here. Certainly, the game he had in St. Louis was a phenomenal game. You can't come to expect it every day, but it was certainly a glimpse of the things he can do when he's feeling right."
Reds: More chances for Simon?
Coming off of a stellar one-run, seven-inning performance vs. the Mets on Sunday, Alfredo Simon will be making his second start in place the injured Mat Latos. Simon was expected to make a couple of starts for Cincinnati until Latos was ready after February left knee surgery, but he could now have a longer engagement in the rotation.
Latos felt soreness in his right elbow earlier this week and was scratched from a rehab start for Triple-A Louisville. On Friday during a bullpen session, he still felt something in his arm, and will be given a couple of more days to rest. That means the Reds will be counting on a good outing from Simon on Saturday, and in the near future.
Rays: Hanigan returns
Hanigan returned to Cincinnati for the first time since the Rays acquired the veteran catcher from the Reds as part of a three-team trade with Arizona on Dec. 3. Hanigan had spent his first seven seasons in Cincinnati, and he caught both of Homer Bailey's no-hitters.
Hanigan and Bailey were the only battery mates to combine for two regular-season no-hitters since Kansas City's Fran Healy and Steve Busby in 1973-74.
From 2007-13, the Reds had a 2.26 ERA when Hanigan started at catcher, and a 4.32 ERA when pitching to other catchers.
• In 1985-86, Rays manager Joe Maddon was managing Double-A Midland in the Texas League in his early 30s. One pitcher who spent time on Maddon's staff both seasons was a left-hander named Bryan Price, now the first-year skipper of the Reds.
• Jay Bruce has 99 career home runs at Great American Ball Park.
• According to FanGraphs.com, 33 percent of Cobb's pitches last season were changeups. This season, opponents are hitting only .143 (3-for-21) in at-bats ending with a changeup.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.