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06/28/11 7:42 PM ET

LeCure thriving in new middle relief role

ST. PETERSBURG -- On a roll in his new role of middle relief, not even a stint on the disabled list has stopped Reds pitcher Sam LeCure from doing his job well.

Since moving from the rotation to the bullpen, LeCure has given up one earned run over 18 innings over his last 11 appearances, which translates to a miniscule 0.50 ERA. Of his 11 inherited runners overall, only two have scored.

"We don't want to know that," LeCure said, being superstitious.

LeCure allowed one hit over two scoreless innings, using only 22 pitches, during the Reds' 5-0 win over the Rays on Monday.

"It's going well," LeCure said. "I don't really think about it, to be honest with you. I just try to get the ball to the next guy and cover some innings where I can. If we're shorthanded in the 'pen or whatever, if I can go out there and give a couple of innings ... it gives those guys a little break so the next day we're fresh."

  • 131 wins
  • 121 wins

There lies the nature of a good middle reliever. It's a role that isn't glamorous because it often doesn't net wins or saves.

"That's one of the most unheralded jobs in baseball, but also one of the most important jobs to be that bridge guy to get you to the back end of your bullpen," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Most teams don't really have one because they save money there most of the time -- starters are getting paid handsomely and back-end guys are getting paid handsomely. It takes a real team guy to relish that role and be in the role."

LeCure was activated from the disabled list on June 22 after missing a month because of a sore right forearm. He pitched mostly well in four rehab assignment outings for Triple-A Louisville.

"It was nice to come back, it reconfirmed some confidence as far as what I'm able to do and that things didn't change however long I was gone," said LeCure, who has a 2.79 ERA overall. He had a 4.79 ERA in four starts this season.

Baker moving slumping Stubbs around lineup

ST. PETERSBURG -- Reds manager Dusty Baker wanted to take some pressure off struggling center fielder Drew Stubbs by moving him out of the leadoff spot last week.

In five starts before Tuesday -- in which he batted sixth, seventh or eighth in the order -- Stubbs was 4-for-22 (.182) with eight strikeouts.

Baker isn't dissatisfied with Stubbs' effort since he was dropped in the lineup, which was to be a temporary maneuver.

"He's doing OK," Baker said. "I'd like to move him back there eventually. He brings the most to the table, speed-wise. I don't know when -- it shapes on who we're playing and what we need."

Stubbs was batting eighth for the Reds in Tuesday's game against Tampa Bay.

Masset enjoys homecoming in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG -- Several hours before Tuesday's game against the Rays, Reds reliever Nick Masset was making ticket arrangements for over 20 family and friends.

Masset grew up in nearby Pinellas Park, Fla., and lives in Odessa, Fla., during the offseason. He also pitched for St. Petersburg Junior College.

"It's always nice to come back to your hometown and throw in front of your family, friends and coaches and teammates I've had in the past growing up," Masset said. "It's exciting. I have a good time with it, all the support and spending time with them before and after games."

Masset pitched a scoreless ninth inning with one hit to close the Reds' 5-0 win on Monday.

"You want to pitch well, no matter where you're at, but it's an added incentive to do it in front of the friends and coaches that helped me get to where I'm at," Masset said.

Worth noting

• Left-hander Matt Maloney, who is on the 60-day disabled list with a broken rib, has started a throwing program off flat ground. On Wednesday, Maloney is expected to throw off a mound back in Cincinnati.

• Pitcher Brad Boxberger, the Reds' supplemental first-round Draft pick in 2009, was promoted to Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday. Boxberger was converted from starter to reliever this season, posting a 1.31 ERA with 13 walks and 57 strikeouts in 30 appearances for Double-A Carolina.

• Second baseman Brandon Phillips celebrated his 30th birthday on Tuesday. It was also a birthday for bench coach Chris Speier, who turned 61.

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.