Cozart, Bruce benefit from day off
CINCINNATI -- No Major League player ever enjoys sitting out a game.
But often times, despite their wishes, a manager knows best and an off-day is in store.
That was the case this week for Jay Bruce and Zack Cozart. The Reds' duo had been struggling since the All-Star break, and manager Dusty Baker gave both starters a day of rest to get their minds off baseball.
"To be honest with you, I felt good [Friday]," said Cozart, who was off on Thursday. "I had a good workout [Thursday] because I knew I was going to have the day off. You just kind of have a breather and not think about baseball for a day or so."
Baker's strategy must have worked.
Both slumping Reds notched multihit games on Friday, including a home run from each, breaking out of their cold spells.
Cozart entered the game with just one hit since the All-Star break, but tripled that count with a 3-for-4 game in Friday's win against the Brewers. His night included the Reds' first hit and run of the evening, when he hit a solo homer in the fourth inning.
"The day off was obviously good for me," Cozart said. "I'm sure that had a lot to do with it. The day off was more for the mental part of the game."
Bruce, who didn't play on Tuesday and snapped his 0-for-19 funk with a double and a home run on Friday, echoed Cozart's sentiments.
Bruce said midseason slumps are often predominantly mental, and a day away from baseball can help.
"To have kind of a mental rest day is always good," he said. "You might be doing something [wrong] just a little mechanical, then you get to the mental part of it and it just kind of snowballs. You have to have something to really stop the bleeding."
Cincinnati is hoping the struggles have finally stopped for their All-Star right fielder.
Despite his and Cozart's recent slips, the Reds have won nine of their last 11 and are a season-high 13 games over .500 entering Saturday.
"I'm glad we're winning," Bruce said. "Winning has made all the struggles that I have had a lot easier."
Frazier doing strong work at multiple positions
CINCINNATI -- He may not have been the first name to come to mind, but in the absence of Joey Votto, Reds utility man Todd Frazier has proven to be an adequate fill-in.
It's not the first time Frazier has been called to duty.
The 26-year-old rookie has become the most versatile cog of the Reds' defense, making starts in three different defensive positions numerous times this season.
Frazier has seen the most action in his natural home at third base, but has also started five games at both first base and left field.
"I feel comfortable in all of them, so it doesn't really matter," said Frazier, who credited his younger playing days for his versatility. "Growing up I played a lot of different positions. I was ready for all the positions, and in high school I played many different positions."
In 56 games this season, Frazier has recorded 68 putouts and 60 assists in 131 total chances, chalking up just three errors.
With multiyear veterans at all three of his main positions, Frazier said he doesn't mind hopping around the field, and just enjoys being on it.
"If Brandon [Phillips] doesn't want to play second base, I'll play there too," Frazier joked.
It's not just on the field that Frazier has moved around.
He has also jumped around different spots in the batting order, hitting third, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth at some point this season.
Frazier is one of three Reds rookies who has seen significant playing time this season, and is fourth on the team with a .274 batting average entering Saturday.
Plenty of Reds stepping up in Votto's absence
CINCINNATI -- Many Reds fans probably thought the sky was falling when they heard franchise first baseman Joey Votto would miss a month of action following surgery on his left knee.
The weather may have even supported this theory, with downpours plaguing southern Ohio earlier in the week. But the skies have cleared and the Reds have continued to win.
The club is 3-2 since Votto last played on Sunday, and are a season-high 13 games over .500 entering Saturday.
"You're not the same without Joey, but the guys are picking up the slack," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "That's what you've got to do. That's what good teams do. You don't sob, pout, feel sorry for yourself. You pick it up."
The offense has taken a hit without Votto's bat in the lineup, but the club has continued to find ways to win.
Different hitters have stepped up throughout the week. Ryan Ludwick knocked in three runs on Tuesday, Brandon Phillips chalked up five RBIs on Thursday, and three different Reds hit homers Friday night, all contributing to Cincinnati wins.
Twice this week, the Reds' pitching staff has allowed one run or less, making the offense's job much more doable.
"Any time you get pitching like that, it makes it a lot easier for when you do hit a homer and score a run," Baker said. "It makes it much more meaningful. We're not scoring a lot of runs, but we're getting just enough to win."
The Reds have averaged 3.6 runs per game since Sunday, slightly below their 4.2 season average.
Mark Clements is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.