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06/08/12 8:05 PM ET

Heisey flashing the leather in center field

CINCINNATI -- In his first two games starting in center field in place of the injured Drew Stubbs, Chris Heisey has taken ownership of two straight defensive plays of the game for the Reds.

On Wednesday against the Pirates, Heisey robbed Rod Barajas of extra bases with a spectacular leaping catch at the wall in left-center field. On Thursday in the sixth inning against Pittsburgh, Heisey ran far to his left and was fully stretched to make a great diving catch to take extra bases from Andrew McCutchen.

"I think we can get caught up in how we're feeling at the plate. I know I put a lot of stock in that, as well," Heisey said. "But you can help the team just as much on defense. And, fortunately, I've made a couple of good plays."

Heisey, normally a left fielder, can play all three outfield spots well. But he lacks the speed and range of the speedier Stubbs. Most outfielders do.

"Hey man, you've got to have more than one guy out there," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "These are plays that I love and also kind of expect sometimes. Heisey is my backup center fielder. You've got to have a backup center fielder, backup shortstop and backup catcher. Those three things you'd miss having a true backup to."

Heisey, who played his sixth game in center field on Friday against Detroit, felt there were only mild adjustments needed when shifting over from left field.

"The only thing I find hard is positioning yourself behind the pitcher," Heisey said. "Sometimes, you feel like you're out of position just so you can see the ball off of the bat. You have to be able to see the ball to get a good jump."

Frazier a late scratch with back spasms

CINCINNATI -- About an hour before the Reds played the Tigers on Friday, the Reds scratched third baseman Todd Frazier from the starting lineup.

Miguel Cairo replaced Frazier in the order and batted seventh.

The Reds revealed that Frazier was bothered by back spasms. In 35 games, Frazier is batting .260 with six home runs and 15 RBIs. Frazier has been the primary third baseman since Scott Rolen went on the disabled list May 12.

Stubbs begins exercising strained oblique

CINCINNATI -- Reds center fielder Drew Stubbs, who missed his third straight game due to a strained left oblique muscle, has started doing some exercises.

"I did some cardiovascular work to get loose and did some core work to kind of engage it and see how it feels," Stubbs said on Friday. "I'm not in any pain or anything."

Stubbs has yet to try any baseball-related activity. He is awaiting the green light from the medical staff.

Masset progressing with throwing program

CINCINNATI -- The throwing program for Reds reliever Nick Masset continues to progress. Masset, who has been on the disabled list since Spring Training due to a right shoulder injury, is making about 60-70 throws per day at distances up to 150 feet. On Friday however, he said he dialed it back a little with just 30-40 throws.

Very gradually, Masset has been increasing the intensity of his throwing sessions.

"We've been throwing for two weeks to the day today," Masset said. "Ever since I felt like I got over the hump, three or four days ago, I'm to where I can go back and grab a little more and throw a little harder. I've started getting my feet underneath me and started working on my delivery."

Masset still does not know when he will test himself from a mound.

"We haven't really gotten that far," Masset said. "I'm strengthening the shoulder right now. I'd like to say a week from now, but I can't put an exact number on it. Once all the soreness is out of my arm, I can probably start throwing different pitches -- my sinker, my curveball, my slider and split. Once we do that three or four days, I can get on a mound and be able to let it go."

Baker-Leyland friendship goes way back

CINCINNATI -- This weekend's Interleague series between the Reds and Tigers pitted No. 1 vs. No. 2 on the active managers wins list. Jim Leyland came in with 1,614 victories on Friday over 21 seasons. The Reds' Dusty Baker had 1,515 over 19 seasons.

A friendship between Baker and Leyland goes way back, and Baker holds Leyland in high esteem.

"He's a guy I'm real close to," Baker said Friday. "When I was a coach and he was a manager, he was telling me all the time that I would be managing some day. We have a lot in common. We both managed Barry Bonds for an extended period of time. I used to ask him different things about Barry and we would talk.

"I was with him the night he retired in Colorado. He was singing at some piano bar and he wanted me to go with him and sing. I said 'I'd go with him and listen.' He called me up there to sing. He's a guy I like and admire a lot. I haven't managed against him in a while, because we haven't played the Tigers in a while. He and I and Bruce Bochy are slowly but surely becoming the elder statesmen in the game."

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.