CINCINNATI -- Bill Bray's long recovery from reconstructive elbow surgery is finally complete.
The Cincinnati Reds called up the left-handed reliever on Sunday, strengthening their bullpen before the final game of an interleague series against the Cleveland Indians. It was a long-awaited moment for Bray, who had his left elbow rebuilt on May 19, 2009.
"It was a wonderful surprise," said Bray, who was with Triple-A Louisville. "Everything has been going well. I feel good. I've been bouncing back. I've been able to go back-to-back days or three out of four days. Every time out there it gets a little better."
Rookie starter Sam LeCure was optioned to Louisville to open a roster spot. LeCure lasted only 3 1/3 innings in a 6-4 win over Cleveland on Saturday night. He was 1-4 with a 4.86 ERA in his first six big-league starts.
"LeCure has pitched pretty well," manager Dusty Baker said. "Last night was probably the worst he's pitched. That's not why we made the moves. We don't need his spot for three or four days. We've got the Phillies coming in with a lot of lefties. We need three lefties in that 'pen. When you're trying to win the pennant, you have to make temporary auxiliary moves sometimes."
The Reds thought Bray would be a cornerstone reliever when they got him from Washington in 2006, part of an eight-player deal that sent outfielder Austin Kearns to the Nationals. A series of injuries held him back. Bray broke the tip of his left index finger in 2007 and later developed tendinitis in his left shoulder.
He pitched in a career-high 63 games for the Reds in 2008, going 2-2 with a 2.87 ERA. He had a torn ligament in the left elbow replaced the next season.
Bray thought he was all the way back during spring training, but the elbow swelled up, forcing him to back off on his rehabilitation.
"It's been a long road back," he said. "I'm so thankful it's over."
Bray went on the disabled list after the problems in March. He started a rehabilitation stint at Class A on June 4, made four scoreless appearances, then moved up to Louisville, where he made six more scoreless appearances spanning 5 2/3 innings. Batters were 3 for 35 against him overall.
Pitching coach Ted Power broke the news to him early Sunday.
"It's an awe-struck feeling," Bray said. "I wasn't expecting it at all. I didn't know what to say. I still don't really know what to say. It's an amazing feeling. I think it's better than when I got called up for the first time."