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07/05/12 10:50 PM ET

Rolen not expected to land on disabled list

SAN DIEGO -- It appears that Reds third baseman Scott Rolen's back spasms have improved enough that a trip to the disabled list shouldn't be needed.

"I don't want to go on the DL. I'm hoping that's off the table," Rolen said on Thursday. "I plan on being available [Friday] for sure. My activity level went up. I ran some sprints. I did some stuff in the weight room."

Rolen has not played since last Friday, but was scratched just before Sunday's game at San Francisco when his lower back locked up.

Struggling Stubbs gets day off in San Diego

SAN DIEGO -- Reds center fielder Drew Stubbs arrived in San Diego 0-for-the-West Coast as he faced pitchers from the Giants and Dodgers over seven-games.

The exact total is a career-worst 0-for-28 stretch with nine strikeouts for Stubbs, whose batting average has dropped to .214. On Thursday, Stubbs was given a day off, as the Reds opened a four-game series with the Padres, and it appeared welcomed.

"I think regroup is probably a good word to use," Stubbs said. "Obviously, I'm on quite a skid lately. I think when I was in San Francisco, leaving that series, I didn't get any hits, but I still felt like I was putting together some good at-bats and I felt pretty good at the plate. For whatever reason, the last couple of days in L.A., I felt lost a little bit. I don't know what caused it.

"Maybe it's just whenever you have a few games of 0-fers compound on you, you start to press and do some things you're not usually doing."

Stubbs doesn't believe the strained left oblique muscle that put him on the disabled list last month has affected him. In 10 games since returning, he is 3-for-34 (.088).

"I've felt good. I definitely can't blame anything that's happened with that," Stubbs said.

Reds manager Dusty Baker said he told Stubbs to clear his head and not do any pregame hitting on Thursday. Utility player Wilson Valdez started in Stubbs' place. The club will miss Stubbs' speed in the expansive Petco Park outfield, but it was a risk Baker was willing to take.

"But do I have to think today or think in the long run? He'll be back in there [Friday]," Baker said. "This game is so mental. Everybody sees the physical. As a witness, it's a very mental game, especially when you're doing something every day. You don't have a chance to clear yourself."

Baker was resistant to the notion that Stubbs should be moved down from the second spot in the lineup. He hit well there until he went on the disabled list

"He took off this year when I put him at second, for a while," Baker said. "You had hoped that during the course of the year, whoever I put in front of Joey [Votto] would take off pretty good. He's my one main speed threat. If you drop him down to seventh and he runs, they'll walk the catcher to get to the pitcher."

Rehabbing Madson visits Reds clubhouse

SAN DIEGO -- For the first time since he had season-ending Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in April, closer Ryan Madson was in the Reds clubhouse on Thursday and in uniform. Madson lives in nearby Temecula, Calif., and has been doing his rehab in Anaheim, under the watch of the Angels medical staff.

"It's going slow, real slow," said Madson, who hurt his elbow throwing during Spring Training and never appeared in an exhibition game. "I think everything is on schedule. I wanted to come down here and get a chance to let everybody see the progress."

There has been no throwing program yet for Madson, who hopes to pick up a baseball in September. He does rehab and exercise on his arm about 90 minutes a day, per therapist's orders.

Madson was a prized free-agent acquisition in the winter, when he signed a one-year, $8.5 million contract with an $11 million mutual option for 2013. The option is unlikely to get picked up, and he would get a $2.5 million buyout. But Madson would like to return to Cincinnati next year.

"I'm waiting for this thing to crank back up. I'd love to be back here," Madson said. "I don't see any reason not to. When I left Spring Training, we had some good talks. Hopefully that's still in place."

While he's been out, Madson has reduced the number of games he's watched on TV, because it's been hard to sit for the season.

"I'm trying to remain a baseball player and not just a Dad at home," he said. "I've gotten a little taste of what retirement tastes like. It's cool, but I am drooling to throw and be a part of this. Now I've seen the other side of it."

Madson sees Rangers closer Joe Nathan as a beacon of hope. Nathan missed 2010 with the Twins to have Tommy John surgery and returned in 2011. This season, he's an All-Star for Texas.

"I definitely look forward to matching that," Madson said. "He's paving the way in recent times that can happen. His name comes up a lot when I think about things and next year."

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.