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Rijo puts arm, and treatment, to test today

Jose Rijo says today's start is the biggest of his career.

The Reds' longtime ace is scheduled to face the Marlins, putting his pitching elbow to the test. He had a cortisone shot Monday to get rid of pain and inflammation that had disabled him and left him contemplating surgery. The right-hander felt no pain Saturday from his 52-pitch workout in the bullpen a day earlier.

The Reds hope cortisone and proper pitching technique can get Rijo through the season. They say he will be limited to 70-75 pitches today.

"This is going to be the most important start of my career, because I know what's going to happen if it doesn't do what I want it to do," Rijo said Saturday. "I kind of know what to expect if it doesn't go well: surgery."

Rijo's elbow got so sore from 11 pitches in a game June 17 that he agreed to get the shot, but so far the cortisone is working.

"It's unbelievable," Rijo said. "I don't want to use the word "numb,' but I want to use the word "funny.' It's funny _ there's no pain, no nothing. It's not a natural feeling, let's put it that way."