By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer
HOUSTON - Welcome back, Corky. Now get a bat, and go face the Rocket.
That was pretty much the greeting Corky Miller got upon his return to the Reds. Miller was called up from Louisville to replace the injured Jason LaRue.
Miller was in the lineup Friday night against the Houston Astros and Roger Clemens.
D'Angelo Jimenez (3) steals second base as the ball bounces away from Houston Astros shortstop Adam Everett during the first inning.
"It's good to be back and get to face Roger right off the bat," Miller said.
Miller played only one game at Louisville before LaRue's injury. He was allowed to be recalled before the 10-day limit - a player sent to the minors must stay there 10 days - because of the injury.
"I'm happy to play anywhere any time," he said. "It's too bad about Jason. I'll come in and try to fill his shoes."
Miller, 28, didn't get much of a chance in his first stint with the Reds. He made only three starts before he was sent to Louisville to make room for Brandon Larson.
"I want to try to make a good enough impression that I'll get to stay," Miller said.
Reds manager Dave Miley would not commit to either Miller or Javier Valentin as the starter while LaRue is out.
LaRUE WITH TEAM: After LaRue was examined in Cincinnati Thursday, it was suggested that he stay there to rehabilitate his broken right index finger.
LaRue had other plans.
"I wanted to be with the team," he said. "I can catch bullpens. (Dr. Tim Kremchek) said it was OK as long and I hold my (right) hand behind my back. I wanted to stay in catching shape. That's the only way to do it."
LaRue expects to come off the DL May 14 - the first day he's eligible.
"I'm going to ice it the next four or five days," he said. "Hopefully after that, I can start hitting off a tee. I hope to be in the lineup the first day I'm eligible."
COSTLY CALL: The play on which LaRue broke his finger was ruled a strike in the Reds' 10-9, 10-inning loss to Milwaukee Wednesday. Home-plate umpire Paul Emmel ruled that LaRue was trying to bunt.
"I told Paul it wasn't humanly possible to try to bunt when you're falling on your back," Miley said.
"I stated my opinion," LaRue said. "The ball was at my face. There's no way in the world I could bunt at it."
The call turned out to be a huge one. It came in the ninth inning with the score tied 9-9 with Adam Dunn at first and no outs.
If it had been ruled a hit-by-pitch, the Reds would have had first and second, no outs, with their best bunter, Ryan Freel, up.
As it was, Larson was brought up as pinch-hitter for LaRue and struck out. Freel then grounded into a fielder's choice. The Reds ended up not scoring.
Miley said he knew of no way to protest or file a complaint about the call. Austin Kearns was hit on the hand in Philadelphia and missed a game after a similar call.
INJURY REPORT: Phil Norton, who suffered a bruised thigh in a collision with Sean Casey on Tuesday, was available to pitch Friday.
TRUE STORY: The Louisville Bats game with the Indianapolis Indians was delayed 20 minutes Thursday when Indy first baseman Jeff Liefer was accidentally locked in the bathroom.
"They had to go get a crowbar and take the hinges off to get him out," said Miller, who was at the game. "I've never seen anything like that."
When he was managing Cedar Rapids, his club lost the first game a doubleheader.
"I was hot," he said. "I slammed the office door. It wedged (shut). I had to slide the lineup card under the door. I don't think the players wanted me to get out."
BARBER CHAIR: Pitcher Aaron Harang is the Reds' barber. He trimmed coach Randy Whisler hair before Friday's game.
Harang learned the trade from his first minor league roommate.
"In the minors, the guys will do anything to save the $10," he said. "I like doing it. I do my own hair. Guys sometimes don't have time to get to a barber on the road."
FARM REPORT: Left-hander Jung Keun Bong had his best outing at Louisville. He pitched eight shutout innings in the Bats' 9-0 win over Indianapolis Thursday.
Bong, obtained in the Chris Reitsma trade, allowed five hits and struck out eight.
Ray Olmedo was 2-for-4 with two triples. Olmedo is hitting .333 since being sent to Louisville.
UP NEXT: Right-hander Aaron Harang (2-0, 3.52 ERA) faces Astros righty Wade Miller (2-2, 3.12) at 7:05 p.m. Harang improved to 2-0 in his last start, a 5-2 victory over Pittsburgh. He allowed two runs on seven hits in six innings.
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