07/18/11 8:03 PM ET
Nicked up Rolen gets reprieve in opener
By Laura Myers / MLB.com
Baker gave his All-Star third baseman a break Monday, inserting Miguel Cairo in the lineup against the Pirates.
"We've got to space him," Baker said. "It's up to me to notice changes and various things, and I almost have to mandate that it happens. He's not that kind of guy [that would ask for a break]. But I can sort of tell."
Rolen did not get a break in the days after the All-Star break when the Reds played St. Louis, and he should be back in the lineup Tuesday.
"He really didn't get much rest over the All-Star break," Baker said. "We'd hoped that he would, had he not made the All-Star Game. ... They don't have those three days off."
Though Rolen has had trouble with his shoulder throughout his career -- he went on the disabled list for a short time earlier in the season -- Baker said the soreness was nothing to worry about.
"It's going to bother him," he said. "If you have three operations on it, it's going to bother you from time to time."
Consistency is Reds' No. 1 goal for stretch run
PITTSBURGH -- The Reds have several goals as they begin the second half. The first has been the most perplexing.
Though Cincinnati took two of three from then division-leading St. Louis over the weekend, the club has not won consecutive games since sweeping the Dodgers on June 13-15. Since then, the Reds have gone 10-15, which is why manager Dusty Baker said consistency is the team's primary focus.
"Sometimes there's no answers. Everybody's looking for answers," Baker said. "One day we'd hit, the next day we wouldn't hit, the next day we'd pitch, the next day we wouldn't pitch, the next day we'd pitch, and then our starter's good and the bullpen wasn't, and the next day the bullpen was good and the starter wasn't."
The Reds have spent the vast majority of their games over .500 this season, but slipped below on July 7 and have not been able to get back since. Their low, though, is just two games below.
"We want to get back to .500, then put some distance on .500," Baker said. "We've been up and down, up and down most of the year. We're hoping this is the period where we go up and keep going up."
Baker paying no attention to D-Train's past
PITTSBURGH -- Dontrelle Willis has bounced between the Majors and Minors with four different organizations since 2008.
Willis made his Reds debut on July 10 before logging his second start Monday -- which is all that mattered to manager Dusty Baker. The left-hander's history doesn't enter his mind, the skipper said.
"I've only seen one start, and I saw him in Spring Training," Baker said. "I'm paying attention to what we have here."
Willis went to Spring Training with the Reds and spent the first half of the season with Triple-A Louisville. In his first start with Cincinnati, he allowed two earned runs in six innings.
Willis was a two-time All-Star early in his career and was named Rookie of the Year in 2003 while with the Marlins. But he has struggled since 2007.
"It's a matter of him finding the strike zone again. For whatever reason, nobody really knows," Baker said. "He went quite a few places before he got here. Nothing was wrong with his arm, nothing was wrong with his body. It was just a matter of getting his confidence, getting everything back together.
The Reds' series against the Pirates is a short three-game road trip. Cincinnati has an off-day Thursday before beginning a 10-game homestand Friday. The club is 25-22 at home and 26-22 on the road.
With his first-inning single on Monday, shortstop Zack Cozart tied a club record by hitting safely in each of the first seven games of his big league career. Adam Dunn also began his career with a seven-game streak in 2001.
Laura Myers is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.