06/14/12 6:10 PM ET
Phillips benefiting from Votto's presence
By Mark Clements / MLB.com
Regardless of how Joey Votto views his league-leading 10 intentional walks, it's an act the two-time All-Star and former National League Most Valuable Player should get used to.
While Votto's 76 hits, 27 doubles, 11 homers, 41 RBIs and .362 batting average catch most of the attention, his MLB-leading 50 walks and .483 on-base percentage often set the table for the next man in line: second baseman Brandon Phillips.
For the majority of last season and the beginning of this season, Phillips hit either leadoff or second, before being moved to the four-spot full time on April 18 against St. Louis.
Phillips struggled in the early season before being moved to fourth, batting right at .200 through the first seven games.
In 48 games since his move, Phillips has amassed 55 hits, eight doubles, seven homers, 34 RBIs, and is batting .296 with a .345 on-base percentage.
"I've been struggling when I have runners in scoring position since moving to the fourth spot," said Phillips, who drove in three runs in Wednesday night's 5-3 win over the Indians. "There's always room for improvement. I try to do the best I can do from the four-hole, try to protect Joey Votto as much as possible. When you get clutch hits like that, positive things happen. That's why we won the game [Wednesday]."
Manager Dusty Baker said he's been happy with Phillips' production batting cleanup and hopes the rest of the order can get going on all cylinders.
"[Votto] can't be a one-man team, and we're not," Baker said. "He's big in the equation, but we certainly have got to get some other guys going. It's good to see Brandon swinging the bat well again. He had some RBIs and if we can get him going, we can really get something with Joey if he continues doing what he's doing."
Heisey, Mesoraco leave early as precaution
CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati's depth chart may be in even more danger after two Reds left Thursday afternoon's game against the Indians early with minor injuries.
Center fielder Chris Heisey was removed in the fifth inning as a precaution with a mild left groin strain, and catcher Devin Mesoraco left the game in the ninth with muscle cramps in his side.
The injuries come just two days after a clubhouse virus sidelined several players in the first game of the Cleveland series.
"It just so happens that most of the guys that came down with something were guys that were sick," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "You don't know if they're dehydrated or the severity of it."
Heisey said he felt tightness in his groin as he crossed the plate in the fourth inning. He came to bat again in the fifth, reaching first on a fielder's choice, but was replaced by pitcher Homer Bailey as a pinch-runner. Rookie Kristopher Negron took over Heisey's fielding duties the following inning.
"Groins can be tricky, so they just wanted me to make sure I get the rest of the day and tomorrow," Heisey said. "We'll see how it feels tomorrow. I think, hopefully, I'll be fine. Just a little bit of a tightness thing."
Heisey, who is batting .275 in his 167 at-bats this season, said he has been bothered by his groin off and on all season, but decided to play it safe after feeling the extra tightness Thursday.
"I just felt it a little more than I had," Heisey said. "I think they just wanted to be safe rather than sorry."
With Drew Stubbs out with an injury, there is no true center fielder on the roster if Heisey is unable to play.
Negron, infielder Wilson Valdez and right fielder Jay Bruce have both spent some amount of time in center.
Valdez has made just two appearances in center, as well as three showings in left field, and Bruce played 35 games in center in 2008.
While neither injury Thursday seems to be long-term, Mesoraco downplayed the severity of his damage to a "cramp-type thing" and said the substitution was merely a precaution.
"We'll see how it feels tomorrow and get some treatment," Mesoraco said. "It'll be fine."
Rolen to play two rehab games at Louisville
CINCINNATI -- After some brief debate, the Reds have decided to send third baseman Scott Rolen to Triple-A Louisville for two rehab appearances on Friday and Saturday.
Rolen has been out since May 12 with a strained left shoulder and plans on rejoining the team Monday in Cleveland.
"We kind of went back and forth on it," Rolen said. "At one point, I thought I was going to play [Thursday]. [Manager] Dusty [Baker] wanted to give me a couple extra days Tuesday and Wednesday and we talked about playing Thursday without rehab. After we talked, we decided to get some at-bats in in Louisville."
In his 29 games before being sidelined, Rolen was hitting .174 with two home runs and 11 RBIs.
Recovering Stubbs aiming for weekend return
CINCINNATI -- Potential good news has come out of the Reds' clubhouse regarding injuries, as center fielder Drew Stubbs continues to make progress toward his return.
Stubbs said he was scheduled to take his first swings since straining his oblique earlier this month, but the 24-hour flu-like virus that made its way through several players Tuesday pushed things back a couple days.
Stubbs was recovering from the illness Wednesday and said he plans to swing the bat again Thursday.
"Hopefully, we'll get some of that stuff done that I was trying to get two days ago," Stubbs said. "If things feel good, then start taking some BP. [I'll] definitely [take] some swings, as long as things continue to feel well. If things feel good from that, then take the next step and take BP and hopefully be back in game mode pretty soon."
The 27-year-old said he plans to be back by the end of the weekend.
"I don't know if that's realistic or not, but I would think if I get in there and swing and things feel good, then I'd be ready to jump back in in a few days," Stubbs said.
• The first pitch of the Reds' game vs the Cardinals on Saturday, July 14, has been changed to 4:05 p.m. ET to accommodate the FOX national broadcast. It originally was scheduled to begin at 7:10.
Mark Clements is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.