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04/21/11 4:03 PM ET

No panic, but Baker may change game plan

Reds mired in slump after beginning with five-game win streak

CINCINNATI -- When the Reds hit a sour stretch late in the first month of last season -- they were 7-11 after 18 games -- manager Dusty Baker took his collective players to the woodshed via team meeting.

The April 24, 2010, meeting came after a poor loss to the Padres where numerous errors and mental gaffes were made. It doesn't appear such a team meeting is imminent this time around, even as the Reds fell to a 9-9 mark entering Thursday's finale with the D-backs.

"Last year's meeting was a little different," Baker said. "You don't kick people when they're down if they're busting their butt. We're not whole yet, either. Now, kicking the ball around and not hustling, that's going to [tick] me off."

By not being whole, Baker is referring to the loss of 40 percent of the rotation in Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey. Both have been out with shoulder injuries since the start of the season. Brandon Phillips missed all four games of the Pirates series earlier in the homestand with a groin injury.

The Reds have struggled mightily since starting 2011 with a 5-0 record. Obviously, excuses don't go far in this game. Neither does freaking out.

"The main thing you don't do is panic," Baker said. "I was taught in the Marines that you don't panic. You figure a way out of the situation. That's the first thing I teach my son. That's how I was taught in the Marines. That's how I live my life. You don't panic, but you can make things happen too, to force the issue sometimes. We might have to change our game plan some."

How might the Reds do that?

"I can't tell you that," Baker said. "That's what we see on CNN. We tell everybody when we're coming."

Baker routinely tries to remain upbeat around his players, even when losing takes its toll on him personally.

"Sometimes, I have to go to my Academy Awards [acting] as well in front of them," he said. "You haven't slept and you've got to be like 'Hey, good morning!'"

Hot-hitting Stubbs, slumping Rolen get day off

CINCINNATI -- Center fielder Drew Stubbs was out of Thursday's starting lineup for the Reds. Chris Heisey took his place and occupied the leadoff spot, going hitless in four at-bats.

Stubbs, who came on as a defensive replacement in Cincinnati's 7-4 win, is batting .313 (10-for-32) over his past nine games with three home runs and seven RBIs. But he was also 1-for-9 with six strikeouts against D-backs starter Daniel Hudson and 2-for-13 over his past four games.

"You hate to give Stubbs a day off, but you have to do it sometimes," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "Whenever I do, he seems to come back real strong."

Stubbs is batting .271 with four homers, 11 RBIs and a .354 on-base percentage overall. He has come on much stronger after his average was down to .237 on April 11.

"I feel great lately," Stubbs said. "I feel like the game is moving fairly slow in the box. I'm seeing pitches well. I'm taking a few walks and I haven't translated it completely into run production, but I feel like any time I get on base, it's giving our team opportunities to score runs.

"I know we haven't done the best job of that lately, but it happens in this game. Sooner or later, we'll be back on track."

Third baseman Scott Rolen was not in the lineup either, as Miguel Cairo got the starting nod. The move immediately paid dividends, as Cairo grounded a two-run single in the Reds' four-run first inning.

Rolen usually gets breaks in day games after night games, but this rest is also more needed than usual, in Baker's eyes. Since his eight-game hitting streak ended on April 11, Rolen is batting .138 (4-for-29).

"Scotty, I really had to give him the time off," Baker said. "I could see he was a little slow the last couple of days."

Gomes not fretting St. Louis reception

CINCINNATI -- When the Reds visit St. Louis for the first time Friday to open a three-game series with the Cardinals, it will be the rivals' first meeting since last season. A lot of bad blood existed between the teams in 2010, including a bench-clearing scuffle in August.

"I don't think anything will be different," said Reds left fielder Jonny Gomes.

The flames were stoked some during Spring Training, when an incorrect report stated that Gomes was celebrating the season-ending elbow injury suffered by Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright. Although the report was discredited, many Cardinals fans have focused their ire on Gomes, who could likely get a hostile reception.

"I didn't do anything wrong," Gomes said. "I don't know how to treat it. I didn't say anything wrong. I never apologized. I'm treating it as just another trip to St. Louis."

Worth noting

• Former Reds play-by-play man George Grande will be back in the booth for Fox Sports Ohio on Monday for the three-game series at Milwaukee. Grande has worked a few games since retiring following the 2009 season.

• Four games into his rehab assignment at Double-A Carolina, Jose Arredondo has a 3.18 ERA over 5 2/3 innings with three walks and 10 strikeouts. Also at Carolina, outfielder Fred Lewis (oblique) is batting .200 (3-for-15) through five games.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.