By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer
SAN FRANCISCO - Shortstop Barry Larkin, who hoped to be activated for today's game against the San Francisco Giants, instead returned to Cincinnati Friday.
The reason? Rain - and more rain - was forecast for the Bay Area.
"We decided to send him back," Reds manager Bob Boone said. "That way he gets on the field and gets his work in."
Larkin, out since April 10 with a strained left calf muscle, took batting practice in an indoor cage in San Francisco Friday, then caught a flight back to Cincinnati.
Larkin thoroughly tested the calf in a session before Thursday's game in Denver and was sorer than expected from that Friday.
"I really pushed it," Larkin said. "I ran the bases, did some high-speed agility drills. It's sore but not unstable."
Barring a setback, Larkin will be activated in time for Monday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park.
When Larkin returns, he'll play shortstop, and Felipe Lopez will move to second base.
Lopez has little major-league experience at second base but doesn't think the move will be a problem.
"I played it a lot in the minors - a whole year," he said. "I've been practicing there."
Boone is satisfied Lopez will be solid at second.
"I've seen enough of him to know he'll be good over there," Boone said.
The other alternative would be to play Lopez at third and move Aaron Boone back to second. But the Reds' resurgence has coincided with Boone's return to third.
"He's as permanent (at third) as you can be when nothing is permanent," Bob Boone said.
Boone hasn't decided how much he'll use Larkin when the veteran returns.
"It depends on how he feels," Boone said. "He could play three of seven days. We could use him as an extra man when he doesn't play. But when he plays, he'll play shortstop and Lopez will play second," Boone said.
Ryan Freel probably will be sent out when Larkin returns. But Boone hasn't yet committed to that course of action.
"(It will be) Juan (Castro) or Freel," he said.
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