CINCINNATI -- As the Reds' roster has gotten healthier with the returns of third baseman Scott Rolen and center fielder Drew Stubbs, playing time for others has gotten scarcer.
There's now essentially a three-way tandem in left field split among Ryan Ludwick, Chris Heisey and rookie Todd Frazier. Heisey had shifted over to center field in Stubbs' place, and Frazier started 28 games at third base while Rolen was on the disabled list.
"It's better than not having them," Reds manager Dusty Baker said on Tuesday. "That's a good problem. Frazier is going to play [Wednesday]. Ludwick has been [playing]. Everyone is big on on-base percentage, which is great ... if you have some guys that can drive them in. The name of the game is to touch home plate. Ludwick's average [.227] isn't where you'd like it or he'd like it, but he's been very productive at driving in runs [31 RBIs], especially RBIs with two-out situations."
Ludwick started his third straight game in left field on Tuesday. Heisey last started on Sunday in center field, and Frazier started at third base Sunday and in left field on Saturday.
"We'll see who's hot, the matchups that I see and who I think can do what," Baker said. "Batting average is great, but it can be a misconception if there's not run production behind the batting average. I'd rather have both. When you do, you have an All-Star."
Frazier, who came into Tuesday batting .264, hit six homers and drove in 19 runs while Rolen was out. One plus for the team is that the bench has gotten stronger. Frazier is 6-for-8 this season as a pinch-hitter but 3-for-his-last-18 since his regular role diminished.
"I've been in both roles before," said Frazier, who was not in Tuesday's starting lineup. "I know what's expected of myself and what to do when certain situations come around. Right now, it's pinch-hitting again. I don't take anything for granted, and I will be ready to go like I've always been."
For many rookies used to starting every day on their way through the system, coming off of the bench is a tough adjustment. Frazier hasn't viewed it that way.
"I just come in happy every day," Frazier said. "I always find something to make me feel positive. You understand that you're doing something you love. I'm keeping my head up high and trying to help this team win. There's nothing more I want to do than get to the playoffs. That's my main goal. Whether you're starting or not, it doesn't matter as long as you're helping out in some kind of way."
Stubbs passes physical test in return from DL
CINCINNATI -- Reds center fielder Drew Stubbs' best test of his once-strained left oblique muscle Monday night wasn't a swing of the bat. It was an unconventional slide into second for a stolen base in the eighth inning during Cincinnati's 3-1 win over the Brewers.
Stubbs was activated from the disabled list before the game.
"We were really paying attention to him because he was contorted and twisted at second base trying to stay on the bag," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "It looks like he came out of that OK. He took some real hard swings, too, he threw the ball and was running great. We're still going to have to monitor him some."
With a day game coming on Wednesday and Stubbs starting against the Brewers on Tuesday night, Baker felt it was likely that Stubbs would not start the series finale. Counting three games of a rehab assignment, he played in his fifth straight game on Tuesday.
"I think I've given [the injury] a good test over the last four or five days, and I've gotten a lot of questions about that one play," said Stubbs, who was 2-for-3 in his return to the lineup. "Frankly, it was me losing my balance and trying to keep my foot on the base. It felt fine after that. I feel as good today as I felt yesterday, and hopefully it'll continue to be that way for me."
Frazier, who performed the Heimlich Manuever on a choking victim last month at a Pittsburgh restaurant, was honored on the field by Dr. Henry Heimlich on Tuesday before the game. Heimlich, who is credited for inventing the life-saving procedure, is a Cincinnati resident.
During his win on Monday over the Brewers, starter Mat Latos became only the third Reds pitcher since 1900 to record at least 13 strikeouts and notch at least two hits as a batter. Jim Maloney did it in 1963 and 1966, and Ron Villone achieved the feat in 2000.