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Thursday, May 22
Updated: May 27, 8:20 PM ET
Larkin bothered by more calf problems news services

CINCINNATI -- Barry Larkin went back on the 15-day disabled list Thursday, conceding that his days as the Cincinnati Reds' shortstop are nearing an end.

Barry Larkin
Cincinnati Reds
18 1 4 13 0 .259

Larkin, 39, strained his right calf while running the bases during a 9-3 victory Wednesday night over the Atlanta Braves. Tests Thursday didn't find any tears, but doctors couldn't tell how long he'll be out.

Larkin strained his other calf and was disabled from April 15 to May 5, extending his run of nagging injuries over the last three seasons. His $27 million, three-year contract ends after this season, and he's hoping to stay with his hometown team as a reserve next year.

"I'm going through a transition period," Larkin said. "I think this just points out the obvious, that I'm not going to be out there playing every day. Truth be told, I didn't expect to be doing that after this year, anyway."

Larkin has spent his 17-year career with the Reds, who made him their first-round draft pick in 1985. When Ozzie Smith's career wound down, Larkin became the NL's premier shortstop, winning three Gold Gloves, nine Silver Sluggers and the 1995 NL MVP award.

He hasn't been the same since tearing groin muscles and developing a hernia that required surgery in 2001, limiting him to 45 games. He played in 145 games last year, but hit only .245 because of a toe injury, strained ribcage muscles, spasms in his shoulder and neck, and a sore calf.

Larkin has intensified his conditioning drills to prolong his run as a starter, but hasn't been able to avoid muscle injuries. Former Reds outfielder and coach Ken Griffey Sr. warned him years ago that he'd come to this point.

"I remember Mr. Griffey would tell me: 'You're going to be old one day,' " Larkin said. "You're going to get there one day, and all of the little things will catch up with you. That's what I'm going through now."

Larkin is batting .259 with one homer and four RBI. His best moment of the season came May 6, when he came to bat for the first time since returning from the DL and hit a game-ending homer on his first swing.

He aggravated the left calf a few days later, then injured the other calf Wednesday night. The Reds have only one extra middle infielder, so Larkin's injury left manager Bob Boone with limited options.

The Reds called up infielder Ryan Freel from Triple-A Louisville to take Larkin's place. Freel also filled in while Larkin was on the disabled list the first time.

Felipe Lopez, obtained in an offseason trade with Toronto, will take over at shortstop, the position he's expected to get on an everyday basis next season. Larkin expects to share the position with Lopez when he returns from the disabled list.

"I know I'm in a transition period, and that's fine," Larkin said. "I've accepted it already. I'm definitely not in the mode of going out there and trying to play seven days a week. It's just something that I've had to accept, and I have."

Larkin, Boone and general manager Jim Bowden met late Thursday afternoon and decided the disabled list was the best option. Doctors told Larkin he should be fully healed in two weeks.

"This is in Barry's best interest," Boone said. "If Barry wants to play in the future, he's got to show the world that he can still play. And when you're out there on one leg trying to do it, you're going to look like you can't play."

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