CHICAGO -- One of the toughest weekends of the nascent big league career of Reds rookie Yonder Alonso came at Wrigley Field one month ago. Alonso struggled when he played left field in a series that included one Tony Campana drive down the line that got past him for an inside-the-park home run. Reds manager Dusty Baker didn't start Alonso there again for over a week, and even tried moving the natural first baseman over to third base.
Yet on Monday in the series opener vs. the Cubs, Baker had Alonso starting in left field.
"It's hard to pick the spot. I thought it would be easier here if there was no wind, because there is less territory," Baker said. "You don't have the sun field. Here, it's a sun field in center early and right field late. We'll probably have to make a decision once we get to the huge Coors Field. That's a lot of ground to cover."
Alonso's bat has been a plus to the lineup, as he came in batting .380 with four home runs and 11 RBIs. His two-out single in the 10th inning led to the go-ahead run to beat the Cardinals on Sunday. His seventh-inning, two-run homer on Friday also contributed to a win.
In recent starts in left field, Alonso has performed competently.
"He hasn't had a whole bunch of tough plays, yet," Baker noted. "We try to position him the best we can to give him less ground to cover. Part of playing the outfield is positioning, too. It helps when your pitchers are throwing the ball in the location where they're supposed to throw it, so you can position your defense accordingly."
Mesoraco to catch two games vs. Cubs
CHICAGO -- It lined up just right for top Reds prospect Devin Mesoraco to get his first Major League start behind the plate on Monday, and he also will catch on Tuesday vs. the Cubs.
Reds manager Dusty Baker indicated that Mesoraco would get his first start with Dontrelle Willis pitching, since the two worked together often at Triple-A Louisville. Since being a September callup on Thursday, Mesoraco has been familiarizing himself with the pitching staff. He caught side bullpen sessions and watched games from the bench.
"There's a lot to catching," Baker said on Monday. "Knowing signs to the pitcher, signs with us -- pitchouts, throwovers, stepoffs, just different things. We let him sort of get his feet wet. It helps that he's caught Dontrelle. He'll catch [on Monday and Tuesday]. And he's caught [Mike] Leake down in Triple-A."
Mesoraco debuted on Saturday as a pinch-hitter, and hit a two-out double off the left-field wall in a win over the Cardinals.
Mesoraco went 0-for-4 on the afternoon during a 4-3 Reds loss to the Cubs on Monday. He did collect his first RBI, when Yonder Alonso scored on his groundout to the shortstop in the seventh inning. Defensively, there was a wild pitch that scored a run in the fifth that Mesoraco felt should have been ruled a passed ball.
"I felt OK. I wasn't nervous at all," Mesoraco said. "I felt good. Dontrelle is a guy I've worked with a lot. You know what he's going to do, so we had a good gameplan. He threw the ball well. We made some mistakes that one inning, myself included, and that's the way it goes sometimes."
While Mesoraco is expected to be part of the Reds' future, veterans Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan will still be in the mix the final month of the season.
"You just don't want to completely shelve Hanigan and Ramon," Baker said. "There are guys they've caught that have had success with them, too. Ramon has caught [Johnny] Cueto most of the time and Hanigan has caught Arroyo most of the time."
Arroyo's leg expected to be fine
CHICAGO -- There was a large, square bandage and a wrap that covered a sizeable welt on the left leg of Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo on Monday. Broken blood vessels surrounded the outer edges of the bandage.
Arroyo took a line drive off of that leg from the bat of the Cardinals' Rafael Furcal in Sunday's win. He was in pain the rest of the day, but still pitched eight innings. The leg wasn't feeling better as he sat in the Wrigley Field visitor's clubhouse.
"It feels like it did [on Sunday], and that's without doing anything," Arroyo said. "I got an extra day's rest, so I am just going to get a lot of treatment [on Monday], stay off of it a good bit and see what we can get done [on Tuesday]."
With a scheduled off-day on Thursday, Arroyo is expected to start on five days' rest on Saturday in Colorado.
"I'll be able to pitch," Arroyo said. "It's just getting a leg workout and running in [that] will be tough."
When closer Francisco Cordero pitched a 1-2-3 10th inning for his 30th save in a 3-2 Reds win over the Cardinals on Sunday, it was the 17th time Cordero retired the side in order for a save this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only the Yankees' Mariano Rivera (22) and the Braves' Craig Kimbrel (18) had notched more "perfect" saves of at least three outs this season.