07/14/12 6:36 PM ET
Ludwick swinging a hot bat for Reds
By Mark Clements / MLB.com
Frequently overshadowed by the hitters lined up before him, Reds left fielder Ryan Ludwick has quietly become one of the biggest threats on the club.
Ludwick has spent the majority of the season batting No. 6 in the order, behind Votto, Phillips and Bruce.
After starting the season with a .201 average through his first 45 games, notching 29 hits, eight homers and 27 RBIs, Ludwick's recent play has him feeling like his 2008 self again, when he was an All-Star with the Cardinals.
"I got off to a slow start, and I think I didn't have my swing for a year and a half being over in San Diego," said Ludwick, who hit .228 in parts of two seasons with the Padres. "I've told people this before: I feel as good as I felt in St. Louis."
Ludwick never hit below .267 in his three-plus seasons with the Cardinals, and has had similar production of late. In his past 18 games entering Saturday, Ludwick hit .328 with 21 hits, four homers and eight RBIs, which increased his average for the season to .240.
"I think I'm hitting the ball great," Ludwick said. "I think every day I've been put on the field I've been pretty productive of late, and I think I'll continue to be productive."
Ludwick hasn't just been hitting the ball, he's been crushing it.
He has sent home runs into the upper deck of Great American Ball Park, and has also laced six doubles and a triple in that 18-game span.
"I think my stroke is different," Ludwick said. "It doesn't matter what ballpark you put me in, I think if I have that stroke, I think I'm pretty capable of hitting the ball out of any ballpark."
But it's not just the long ball that Ludwick has contributed. The 10-year veteran also laid down a clutch sacrifice bunt, just the ninth of his career, in the seventh inning of Friday night's game to help secure a 5-3 win against the Cardinals.
"That's something that we work on, and at some point in time, playing championship baseball, everybody is going to have to do it at some point in time," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "In the situation, that was a big, big, big bunt."
Frazier succeeding with unorthodox swing
CINCINNATI -- From Stan Musial to Gary Sheffield, the Major Leagues have featured plenty of unorthodox batting stances and approaches.
While it's a little early to throw Reds third baseman Todd Frazier into that group, there's no denying the rookie's odd swing in some at-bats.
"This is not how you would teach your kid to hit," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of Frazier's rear-end-out, one-handed hack in some plate appearances.
It may not be the prettiest swing in baseball, but it certainly hasn't been an unsuccessful one.
Filling in at third base and left field this season, Frazier is hitting .280 entering Saturday, with 10 home runs and 30 RBIs in 182 at-bats.
"I don't know what it is this year. My butt goes out and I don't use my legs and I hit the ball better," Frazier said with a laugh. "Players have been talking about it, too. I say, 'Hey, man, if I hit it normally, I'd probably ground out or something.'"
The awkward-looking swing seems to be working for Frazier right now, but Baker said it's something they want to nip in the bud before it becomes a major problem.
"There's certain absolutes and different things you have to do to hit or pitch, but there's no one standard way to teach it," Baker said. "When he's in sync, he's in sync. Guys that have unorthodox swings, when you get out of sync, you have a lot of moving parts.
"You've got a guy like Joey [Votto] and his very simple approach, it's a lot easier to fix it if they get out of sync. And it's easier to close their holes once they figure out how to pitch to you."
Simon has been productive out of 'pen
CINCINNATI -- One of the Majors' best bullpens may be getting even stronger.
Reds relievers lead the National League in bullpen ERA at 2.76, and rank second in opponents' batting average at .217, behind the Dodgers' .213 mark, entering Saturday.
Cincinnati has seen 30-plus appearances from Sean Marshall, Jose Arredondo, Logan Ondrusek and Aroldis Chapman this season. The four have combined for 13 wins.
Deeper into the 'pen sits a robust righty, Alfredo Simon.
In his 20 appearances this year, Simon has quietly held the lowest ERA on the club at 1.67.
He earned his first win of the season on Friday night after tossing two scoreless innings against the Cardinals, and Reds manager Dusty Baker said there may be more in store for the 31-year-old reliever.
"I told him, I said, 'Your role has a chance to elevate depending on your performance and how you do,'" Baker said. "That was huge to stop [the Cardinals] right as it was, and it gave us a chance to come back and win."
Simon spent four seasons in Baltimore, making 78 appearances, before being acquired by Cincinnati this year.
Reds acquire righty Redmond from Braves
CINCINNATI -- The Reds added another arm to the organization on Saturday, acquiring starting pitcher Todd Redmond from the Braves in return for shortstop Paul Janish.
Redmond has spent the past four seasons in Triple-A Gwinnett, seeing action in 101 games.
The 27-year-old righty has made 18 starts in 2012, with a 6-6 record, 3.58 ERA and one shutout.
In 199 career Minor League appearances, including 193 starts, Redmond is 69-56 with a 3.57 ERA, four complete games and three shutouts.
He will be assigned to the starting rotation for Triple-A Louisville, according to Reds president of baseball operations and general manager Walt Jocketty.
"He's a guy who pitches a lot of innings; he's a big, strong, durable guy," Jocketty said. "He has an above-average fastball and good command, and he's a guy that we think will definitely help us in an emergency situation as a starter, but he may pitch out of the bullpen for us, too."
Janish, 29, was drafted by the Reds in 2004 and spent time in the big leagues from 08-11, but has been in Louisville the entire '12 season, where he hit .237 with four homers and 11 RBIs in 49 games.
With highly touted infield prospects Billy Hamilton and Didi Gregorius making their mark in the Minors, Jocketty said Atlanta would be a better fit for Janish.
"The Braves obviously had some injuries and were looking for middle-infield help, and they contacted us about Janish," Jocketty said. "We had been trying to get Paul an opportunity to get back to the Major Leagues. We felt he deserved to play in the Major Leagues, and the opportunity wasn't going to be here for a while. This really works well for Paul."
Zack Cozart's 21 doubles were the most ever by a rookie shortstop prior to the All-Star Game, and tied Johnny bench for the third most by a Reds rookie at any position prior to the break.
Mark Clements is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.