05/06/12 1:40 PM ET
Reds confident they can contend in NL Central
By George Von Benko / Special to MLB.com
"I feel good about this team," Reds outfielder Ryan Ludwick said. "Offensively we really haven't got going yet, we've had a couple games where our offense has played well. Obviously the loss of [closer] Ryan Madson early hurt our team, but right now we're playing .500 baseball and we really aren't playing that good of baseball. If we play up to our capability, I think we'll be all right.
"Obviously that team over there in St. Louis is playing really good baseball right now, and they're the team to beat. That's the team that we're trying to knock off the mountain. I think this team and this clubhouse has the ability to do that."
To a man, the Reds feel that they haven't tapped their potential.
"We've been kind of treading water as a team," reliever Logan Ondrusek said. "But we're getting better and better, and people are starting to step up a little more and do the things that they need to do to make everybody successful."
"I think that we're a pretty resilient team," outfielder Jay Bruce said. "We understand how good we are, and when we play well, we can play with anybody and beat anyone."
Phillips still trying to find groove at plate
PITTSBURGH -- Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips has been battling a sore left hamstring that forced him to miss five starts from April 10-14. In 15 appearances since his return, Phillips is batting .220 with two home runs and eight RBIs.
Phillips has struggled in his last 13 starts entering Sunday's series finale against the Pirates -- batting .240 in the cleanup spot.
Reds manager Dusty Baker didn't feel the hamstring was still an issue for Phillips.
"No, his leg is better now," Baker said. "Sometimes you struggle. There is not always a reason or alibi for it, sometimes you don't hit. One thing is for sure, he's going to hit.
"When you start the season hurt you are playing catch up and he hasn't caught up yet. This hitting isn't that easy."
Cairo working his way back at Dayton
PITTSBURGH -- Infielder Miguel Cairo, who is rehabbing his strained left hamstring, is 0-for-10 through three games for Class A Dayton. Cairo was the designated hitter on Thursday and played third base on Friday and Saturday.
Reds manager Dusty Baker on Sunday was unsure if Cairo will rejoin the team for its upcoming series in Milwaukee.
"He was 0-for-4 Saturday night, and I don't know what the aftermath was," Baker said. "He said he felt good, so we'll see today. I've got to find out today."
Scott Rolen's next double will be the 506th of his career, which will tie him with the immortal Babe Ruth for 48th on that all-time list. Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson is 47th with 510 doubles.
Joey Votto's next home run while playing first base will be his 118th, snapping a tie with Sean Casey and moving him alone into fourth place on the club's all-time list for homers by a first baseman.
George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.