Rockies right-hander Jordan Lyles heard the horror stories about Coors Field and how a pitcher had to keep the ball on the ground there, or else. But it could be argued that Great American Ball Park, with its shallow power alleys and corners is even more daunting to pitchers who give up fly balls.
A National League-leading .755 ground ball percentage is a key to his strong numbers (4-0, 2.62 ERA in seven starts) heading into his start Saturday night against the Reds, who will go with righty Alfredo Simon (4-1, 1.99).
There is the possibility of Reds righty Aroldis Chapman making his 2014 season debut. The hard-throwing Chapman is expected to be activated Saturday for the Reds' bullpen after completing his recovery and rehab from being hit in the face by a line drive from the Royals' Salvador Perez during a March 19 Spring Training game.
Lyles had pitched well at Coors this year, and he expects to use the same strategy at Great American.
"I've been here plenty of times, and this is definitely a hitter-friendly park," Lyles said. "I just have to do what I do best, which is getting quick outs, getting ground balls. The key to the season so far is letting the infielders do their job. I'm going to try to keep that up."
In his latest start, Lyles went eight innings -- the deepest of any Rockies pitcher this season -- and held the Rangers to two runs on seven hits. Manager Walt Weiss told him he would let him go for a complete game with a quick hook. Lyles came out after giving up a leadoff single in the ninth.
Lyles said that because Jhoulys Chacin was making his season debut on a low pitch count the night before Lyles' previous outing, "the bullpen had to use some guys. As a starter, you try to go as deep as you can. Seven is a good number. You try to get there, then go deeper.
"But at the end of the day, you're going out there to try to get quick outs. It doesn't matter what happened the day before. Just do your job and keep your team in position to win the game."
Simon, who takes the mound two days after his 33rd birthday, entered the series with the Rockies ranking eighth in the NL in ERA, tied with Lyles for fourth in wins and fifth in opponent batting average at .186. It's not bad considering it was Mat Latos' rehab for elbow and knee surgeries that opened a spot for him.
All of Simon's starts have been so-called quality starts -- six or more innings pitched with three or fewer earned runs.
As for Chapman, the Reds toyed with activating him Friday. But he had pitched Tuesday and Wednesday at Triple-A Louisville on a rehab assignment, so Reds manager Bryan Price decided to wait.
In the two outings for Louisville, Chapman gave up eight earned runs and seven hits over one combined inning.
"They said the first game, they had a decent Triple-A lineup down and they gave him some tough at-bats and put some balls in play," Price said. "He threw some good fastballs and sliders, and he got hit a little bit. But they said his stuff was good. He didn't shy away from contact, and other than giving up some runs, he was fine."
Reds: Going on contact
The Reds entering Saturday led the National League with 11 runners thrown out at the plate in non-forceout situations. No one else in MLB had more than six.
Before the season, Price promised his club would be more aggressive this year, and so far he has backed that up. But running on contact from third base is not just borne from a different attitude, but what Price feels is a necessity under the current circumstances.
"Certainly, you'd like to do it with guys that have a little more foot speed, but sometimes it's based on where you are in the lineup," Price said. "In our situation a lot of times, we've had runners on second and third, so the worst-case scenario is you're at first and third with another out.
"A lot of it is how your two-out hitting is and if you're scoring runs. If you're not scoring runs, the risk factor goes up. If you have a lot of guys swinging the bat well at the same time, you don't have to take that same amount of risks. We've had a lot of guys thrown out at the plate this year."
Rockies: Rutledge, Rosario emerging from sick bay
Rockies infielder Josh Rutledge, placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 2 with a flu-like viral infection, joined extended spring training in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Friday for at-bats.
Catcher Wilin Rosario, who was placed on the disabled list May 4 with the same illness, was "a couple or three days away from getting some baseball activity," Weiss said.
"They'll probably get a few at-bats in Triple-A Colorado Springs, but that's not for sure," Weiss said. "That has to do with the way things are going here. Ideally it will probably be good for them to get some at-bats in Colorado Springs.
"They were in bad shape, both of them, I think mostly due to the high fever. You get a high fever, you're out of commission."
• Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco, who is eligible to come off the disabled list on Sunday, tested his strained left hamstring on Friday by running sprints and came away fine. Mesoraco expected to run the bases on Saturday for another test.
• The Reds' Billy Hamilton on Friday night improved to 2-for-2 as a pinch-hitter with his eighth-inning double off Rockies reliever Boone Logan.
• Two Rockies hit streaks ended Friday night. Nolan Arenado's ended at a club-record 28 games, and Carlos Gonzalez's ended at 10. Friday was the first time Arenado and Gonzalez had each gone hitless in a game both started.