CINCINNATI -- As far as Reds left fielder Ryan Ludwick is concerned, all the ingredients have been in place lately to create a recipe for some success.
"I think it's confidence, rhythm, timing -- those are the main three factors," Ludwick said on Monday. "I'm starting to tone down my batting practices and I've been hitting the ball the other way a lot better. I'm staying more squared to the plate. I'm seeing the ball earlier and I'm able to lay off pitches earlier. It's a lot of things.
"I was telling Jake [hitting coach Brook Jacoby] this is the best I've felt in two or three years. The last 10-15 games or so, I've felt really, really comfortable and locked in."
The numbers have reflected the feeling, as Ludwick took a seven-game hitting streak into Monday's series opener vs. the Brewers. During the stretch, he's batting .385 (10-for-26) and has raised his overall average from .201 to .229 with nine home runs and 31 RBIs.
This is a fine time for Ludwick to be finding a groove at the plate. With Scott Rolen and Drew Stubbs off the disabled list, Chris Heisey and Todd Frazier are now part of a crowded left field situation.
Of his last 15 hits, Ludwick has 11 for extra bases -- eight doubles and three homers. Earlier in the season when he struggled, Ludwick was frequently grounding out on balls he should have been driving.
"San Diego did a job on my mind, it really did," said Ludwick, who struggled for the Padres during parts of the 2010-11 seasons. "I feel like I'm just now starting to hit the ball like I was in 2007, '08, '09 and 2010 before I got traded [to Pittsburgh]. When you look at video, my stance is more similar. My bat path is more similar. I'm hitting balls with authority to right field now. It feels good. I'm more excited than I've been in a while."
Stubbs activated, starts opener vs. Brewers
CINCINNATI -- Following a three-game Minor League rehab assignment, the Reds activated center fielder Drew Stubbs on Monday. Stubbs, who hadn't played since June 5 because of a strained left oblique muscle, batted second in the opener against the Brewers.
Stubbs made his presence felt in Cincinnati's 3-1 win, going 2-for-3 with a double, two runs and a steal.
"I'm glad to have him back," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "The guys that played in his place did a great job, too, while they were playing. Hopefully, he can come back and not miss a beat and actually be better. He has fresh legs, he said his legs were feeling great. Hopefully, he can give us a spark and a jolt, too. He's our No. 1 speed man. That's the one thing that without him in the lineup you're lacking: speed. I love speed. There's no substitution for it."
In three games with Class A Dayton, Stubbs was 1-for-10 with one RBI, one walk and two strikeouts. Results were not the main focus of the rehab assignment, though, as Stubbs was pleased that he could swing with full intensity and not have problems.
"More than anything else, I just tried to use it as a time to get back out on the field, see some live pitching and try to test how I'd feel in a game situation, rather than just BP or something," Stubbs said. "The main thing I took from it is I felt pretty good for the most part. I didn't feel like I really missed a beat, timing-wise and being comfortable on the field."
After consulting with others who had a similar injury, Stubbs realized he might feel stiffness in the oblique area from time to time the rest of the season.
"Being 100 percent at any point of the season is kind of few and far between," Stubbs said. "There's usually always something going on. I wouldn't say it's quite at 100 percent, but it's definitely pain-free."
Reds outright Harris to Triple-A Louisville
CINCINNATI -- To make room for the activation of center fielder Drew Stubbs from the disabled list, the Reds sent utility infielder Willie Harris outright to Triple-A Louisville on Monday.
This was the second time this season that Harris was sent out in a roster move. He was 2-for-9 with two doubles during his second stint, but was batting just .114 overall in 25 games.
"He'll go back to playing and hopefully he'll come back and help us," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "It's the little things, that's what he's capable of doing. Like [Sunday vs. the Twins in the ninth inning], he had a big bunt, that's tough coming off the bench and bunting like that. He put us in a position to tie that ballgame."