05/09/12 6:06 PM ET
Baker reaches milestone win with nail-biter
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
Numbers game gives Frazier start in left
MILWAUKEE -- Though there wasn't just one reason why manager Dusty Baker started rookie Todd Frazier in left field for the first time this season on Wednesday vs. the Brewers, it mostly came down to the numbers of the left-field tandem of Ryan Ludwick and Chris Heisey."A lot of times, I have my lineups two or three days in advance, which I did," Baker said. "You look at the numbers, and it's not that difficult. Right now, Ludwick isn't swinging good, and neither is Heisey." Ludwick entered the day batting .176, and 1-for-18 over his last five games. Heisey was batting .219 and had yet to notch a home run. Frazier went in batting .421 in the 11 appearances he's made since his April 17 recall from Triple-A Louisville. Most of his at-bats have been as a pinch-hitter or while filling in at third base. Then there are the lifetime numbers vs. Brewers ace Zack Greinke -- Ludwick was 0-for-11 with six strikeouts, and Heisey was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. Frazier had faced Greinke only once and drew a walk. "I just try to go with the best lineup I can on that day," Baker said. "That's part of Frazier's value, that he can play a lot of positions. Plus, Greinke doesn't know him, which helps Frazier. A lot of them don't know Frazier yet, which is in Frazier's favor as long as he remains aggressive." Frazier, who can play up to six positions, played four games in left field last season. This season, he had only one start there for Louisville, as he primarily played third base. Since returning to the Reds, he's been taking fly balls in the outfield during batting practice to stay sharp. "I'll be good," Frazier said. "It's basically about getting used to the fly balls and the feel for the grass out there."
Valdez offers much more than bunting ability
MILWAUKEE -- Any time Wilson Valdez is batting for the Reds, he's a threat to bunt for a hit. But manager Dusty Baker sees Valdez as more than a bunter."That's just part of his game," Baker said on Wednesday. "He hasn't played enough for anybody to see what he really can do. His batting average was fair with Philly, but he was a big hit guy. He got a number of hits in the clutch, some against us. These guys played near every day when [Placido] Polanco, [Chase] Utley and [Jimmy] Rollins were out. This guy played on a championship team for a couple of years and played a lot." On Wednesday against Milwaukee, Valdez started at third base in place of Scott Rolen, who was given some rest with a day game following a night game. In 13 games entering the series finale, the 33-year-old Valdez was batting only .200.
When there is a short turnaround, such as Wednesday's 1:10 p.m. ET game against the Brewers after a night game on Tuesday, teams often pass on taking batting practice. But with Milwaukee starting Zack Greinke, Dusty Baker had his players take their cuts."If you go out there half sleeping against him, you'll be in the fifth inning before you wake up," Baker said. "We want to get the blood flowing with a condensed batting practice and run around. That's a nasty man right there."